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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, August 10, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 50:1–8, 22–23

The mighty one, God the Lord,
   speaks and summons the earth
   from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
   God shines forth.

Our God comes and does not keep silence,
   before him is a devouring fire,
   and a mighty tempest all around him.
He calls to the heavens above
   and to the earth, that he may judge his people:
“Gather to me my faithful ones,
   who made a covenant with me by sacrifice!”
The heavens declare his righteousness,
   for God himself is judge.

“Hear, O my people, and I will speak,
   O Israel, I will testify against you.
   I am God, your God.
Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you;
   your burnt offerings are continually before me.

“Mark this, then, you who forget God,
   or I will tear you apart, and there will be no one to deliver.
Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honor me;
   to those who go the right way
   I will show the salvation of God.” (NRSV)

Asaph was a popular singer and songwriter in his day. In this psalm, or song, he sings about God’s coming judgment of us in front of the whole world. That seems harsh. Most of us would no doubt prefer that God address our sins privately. But like the judgment seat of Christ that Paul writes about in his second letter to the Corinthians, Christ will judge our good works and our motives for these good works as believers.

Perhaps Asaph is akin to a modern-day folk singer like Pete Seeger. My third grade classmates and I loved to sing “If I Had a Hammer”: “If I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the morning, I’d hammer in the evening all over this land. I’d hammer out danger, I’d hammer out a warning, I’d hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters, all over this land.” Seeger’s final verse points out that we have these tools: the hammer of justice, the bell of freedom, and this song about love between our brothers and sisters. If we use these tools, could these be the “thank offerings” that honor God and for which God graciously offers us salvation?

God of mercy, inspire me to build a better world with my hammer of justice, help me to put voice to the injustices I see around me with my bell of freedom, and lead me to sing out the love between my brothers and my sisters all over this land. Amen.

Written by Sarah Younger, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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