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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 54

Save me, O God, by your name,
   and vindicate me by your might.
Hear my prayer, O God;
   give ear to the words of my mouth.

For the insolent have risen against me,
   the ruthless seek my life;
   they do not set God before them.

But surely, God is my helper;
   the Lord is the upholder of my life.
He will repay my enemies for their evil.
   In your faithfulness, put an end to them.

With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you;
   I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.
For he has delivered me from every trouble,
   and my eye has looked in triumph on my enemies. (NRSV)

This psalm is an honest prayer for vindication. Though I’m guessing all of us have had moments when we wished other people’s efforts would come to ruin, or even wished they would get hit by a truck, we don’t want to admit it. But the psalmist readily asks God to repay his enemies for their evil and put an end to them. They have sought his life, and he thanks God he can look with triumph on his enemies.

Leslie F. Brandt, in his book Psalms/Now, interpreted this psalm to reframe our enemies not as other people, but as parts of ourselves:

I was tripped up by my own pride and confounded by my foolishness.
I said things and did things that hurt others and dishonored You.
I stumbled into a net of my own making from which I could not escape.

Then You heard my cries and saw my plight.
You touched me with Your love and set me free to walk with You once more.
You continue to deliver me from the snares and pitfalls about me.

Whichever way the psalm is interpreted, the good news is that we can call upon God, count on God, and thank God for making love and justice victorious—at least eventually.

Forgive me, God, when I pray that you will harm those who have harmed me. Instead help me to recognize ways I have harmed others and to make amends. I confess times I hope that others will come to ruin. Instead, may my prayer be that your will be done. Help me trust you are working out your purpose in ways I do not see or fully comprehend. May your ever-present love for me make me a vehicle of love toward others who are troubled and afraid today. Amen.

Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission

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