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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Today’s Reading | Psalm 89:1–18

I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever;
   with my mouth I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations.
I declare that your steadfast love is established forever;
   your faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.

You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
   I have sworn to my servant David:
‘I will establish your descendants forever,
   and build your throne for all generations.’”

Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord,
   your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones.
For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord?
   Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord,
a God feared in the council of the holy ones,
   great and awesome above all that are around him?
O Lord God of hosts,
   who is as mighty as you, O Lord?
   Your faithfulness surrounds you.
You rule the raging of the sea;
   when its waves rise, you still them.
You crushed Rahab like a carcass;
   you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
The heavens are yours, the earth also is yours;
   the world and all that is in it—you have founded them.
The north and the south—you created them;
   Tabor and Hermon joyously praise your name.
You have a mighty arm;
   strong is your hand, high your right hand.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne;
   steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.
Happy are the people who know the festal shout,
   who walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance;
they exult in your name all day long,
   and extol your righteousness.
For you are the glory of their strength;
   by your favor our horn is exalted.
For our shield belongs to the Lord,
   our king to the Holy One of Israel. (NRSV)

When I am asked by people who are confronting serious struggles in their lives where they might turn to in the scriptures, I frequently respond, “The psalms,” for that is where I look in the midst of illness and other challenges. The psalmists are clear about their human circumstances and willing to speak to God expressing their uncertainty, their anger, their grief.
Yet first and foremost in the minds of the psalmists is praising the One whom they are addressing. While Psalm 89 is described as a king praying for deliverance from his enemies, the verses we read today are a hymn extolling God’s power and faithfulness. In a more modest manner, I seek to begin personal prayers with praise and thanksgiving before moving on to the pressing needs of my life and the world. “I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever.”
Another of the grace notes that I find in the psalms is their poetic language. Even though the images are centuries old, they continue to speak with power. Verse 14 caught my attention: “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s throne, steadfast love and faithfulness go before you.”

In a time of violence, terrorism, and turmoil, I am grateful that we can place our trust in a divine ruler whose ways are not our ways, the Holy One, whose reign is founded upon right relations and equity among all God’s people.

I give heartfelt thanks and praise to you, wondrous God, ruler of all creation, for the inspiration and sustenance of the psalms. Renew my prayerful conversation with you, especially in times of struggle, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Written by Jeff Doane, Parish Associates for Older Adults

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