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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Today’s Reading | Psalm 63:5–8

My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
   and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed,
   and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
   and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
   your right hand upholds me. (NRSV)

The epigraph on Psalm 63 states that this is a Psalm of David, spoken when he was in the Wilderness of Judah. While we tend to understand wilderness as an area teaming with flora and fauna, the Hebrew word for wilderness—midbar—meant something quite different. The Israelites wandered in midbar for forty years in the Exodus. The prophets spoke of the Israelites returning through the midbar to a new Jerusalem after the exile. Midbar—what we might call a desert—was a wasteland, fitting with the opening verse of this song: “My soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you”.

And yet, starting at verse 5, we have this surprising proclamation: “My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips.” Even in the midst of David’s physical and spiritual desert, he found richness and fullness in prayer—a fullness of life that came from beyond his present circumstances.

Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk and author, once wrote, “Prayer is an expression of who we are. . . . We are a living incompleteness. We are a gap, an emptiness that calls for fulfillment.” Is it possible to be fulfilled even when we are in the midbar of our lives? From David’s words we have a bold hope: God’s hand will uphold us, no matter what situation we find ourselves in. Thanks be to God.

Great God, you comfort me in sorrow and you strengthen me with hope. Be with me even in the wilderness places in my life, Lord, that my soul might be as satisfied as with a rich feast. Amen.

Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry

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