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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, May 27, 2019              

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 47

Clap your hands, all you peoples;
   shout to God with loud songs of joy.
For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome,
   a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us,
   and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us,
   the pride of Jacob whom he loves.

God has gone up with a shout,
   the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises;
   sing praises to our King, sing praises.
For God is the king of all the earth;
   sing praises with a psalm.

God is king over the nations;
   God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of the peoples gather
   as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
   he is highly exalted. (NRSV)

Reflection
Psalm 47 commands us to be “all-in.” It begins with a triumphant directive to “Clap your hands, all people. Shout to God with loud songs of joy.”

Often read on Ascension Day, one of the psalm’s high points comes with “God has gone up with a shout,” meaning God reigns everywhere. Indeed, on Ascension Day we are reminded that Jesus has been “lifted up into the sky” to sit at the right hand of God the Father.

The psalmist implores that God is due our praise always—for our lives, for our very existence. (Praise is owed to God no matter our current mood or state of mind; it is as essential as water.)

The jubilant message is that all the people of the world, all the nations, and all the rulers of the earth reside under God’s reign.

But reflecting on the current state of the world, I scratch my head, experiencing cognitive dissonance as I read and reread the psalm. By every standard, our world reeks of chaos and falls so short in goodness. In our personal lives, we often express doubt and even despair, wondering why we, those we love, and people we will never meet experience all manner of suffering—from heartbreak to violence to tyrannical rulers.

The only interpretation that resonates with me is that the psalmist is foreshadowing the world to come, the time when all of God’s promises are fulfilled and Jesus returns to earth.

Prayer
Heavenly Creator, help me not to become discouraged at what we’ve done and left undone in your world. Remind me that you will make all things right—in your time, not ours. Through prayer, service, and thanksgiving, renew my faith daily. Help me to praise you always and forever in ways that are pleasing to you in thought, word, and deed. Amen.

Written by Betsy Storm, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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