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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, September 15, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 103:1–13

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
   and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity,
   who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
   who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works vindication
   and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
   his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
   slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always accuse,
   nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
   nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
   so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
   so far he removes our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion for his children,
   so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him. (NRSV)

This psalm describes a God who vindicates without vindictiveness. When evil is done by humanity against humanity, God works to bring about justice for the oppressed. That’s something to be grateful for! When we are the ones wronged, we can count on God to be working on our behalf, to call on human hearts to change and to turn and to act with justice and integrity. God vindicates the oppressed.

Yet when we are the ones who have acted badly, when we’ve made mistakes or failed to live with integrity, God is not vindictive. As verse 9 reminds us, God will not stay angry forever or continue to accuse us always. God forgives; God has compassion; God removes our transgressions and has steadfast and unfailing love for us. This is also something to be grateful for! Healing and transformation are possible. Forgiveness and grace are God’s way.

God’s vision for the world is not a vision of winners and losers, good people versus bad people. We’ve all got the good and the bad inside us. God’s vision is for a world in which we all are redeemed from the Pit and crowned with steadfast love and mercy. I love that image of being crowned with love and mercy. What a crown that would be—and that love and mercy would be for ourselves and for each other.

God of compassion, help me to align my will with your will—to receive your healing and forgiveness and to work for justice with mercy, courage, conviction, and compassion. Amen.

Written by Nanette Sawyer, Minister for Congregational Life

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