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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, November 30, 2019  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 17:1–9     

Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry;
   give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.
From you let my vindication come;
   let your eyes see the right.

If you try my heart, if you visit me by night,
   if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me;
   my mouth does not transgress.
As for what others do, by the word of your lips
   I have avoided the ways of the violent.
My steps have held fast to your paths;
   my feet have not slipped.

I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
   incline your ear to me, hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love,
   O savior of those who seek refuge
    from their adversaries at your right hand.

Guard me as the apple of the eye;
   hide me in the shadow of your wings,
from the wicked who despoil me,
   my deadly enemies who surround me. (NRSV)

Whenever I read any of the psalms, I am reminded that these are examples of earnest communication between humans and God. The psalms of David are a guide from another time, telling us how we might speak with God today. Many are hard to understand, and some of the well-known versions contain antiquated or obscure language. The Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggermann even goes so far as to say the psalms are full of code words for the faithful. However, I think the plea for divine help in this psalm is clear, so clear that when read backwards it makes even more sense:

There are those around me who do not like me and may wish me harm.
Protect me the way a mother bird hides her chicks under her wings
and remind me of how important I am to you.
I know you are present in my life and that I can count on your enduring love for me.
If I seek your help and protection, I trust you will provide me with love and care.
I have done my best to follow your commandments and have trusted
you to guide me before and that you will do so now.
People say and do bad things in this world but in following the path
you have laid out for me, I have tried to avoid this behavior.
When you look into my heart you will find that even though I have been tested and tempted, I continue to seek your guidance and I will always speak honestly to you.

Dear Creator of all that is, hear my words, answer my prayers, know that I am listening with an open mind and heart. Amen.

Written by Elise Magers, Assistant Director, Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being

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