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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, July 29, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Psalm 119:129–136

Your decrees are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them.
The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.
With open mouth I pant, because I long for your commandments.
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
as is your custom toward those who love your name.
Keep my steps steady according to your promise,
and never let iniquity have dominion over me.
Redeem me from human oppression, that I may keep your precepts.
Make your face shine upon your servant, and teach me your statutes.
My eyes shed streams of tears because your law is not kept. (NRSV)

Psalm 119 is the longest psalm in the Bible, with 176 verses. Just reading it to oneself is a daunting task. I needed a commentary to help me understand the psalm as a whole. J. Clinton McCann writes that if you read all 176 verses in one sitting you are overwhelmed—as the psalmist intended. While detailing its poetic and acrostic nature, the general theme is that the psalmist loves and awaits God’s instruction. God’s laws give us guidance and faith to lead a deeply meaningful life.

The verses 129–136 seem to be about waiting patiently. If we wait and ponder God’s decrees, we will be recipients of God’s grace. I can’t think of a better time in my life or this past century that demands a patience in waiting. I certainly didn’t expect the latter years of my life to be spent in a pandemic. None of us knows how this will end or when. As Christians, though, I believe we do know that God’s love and the grace of Christ are with us. This gives me hope.

I focused especially on verse 130: “The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.” Maybe, because life has become so complicated due to COVID-19, the nature of being simple—living day to day, relying on my own resources and connecting with friends and family, praying for those who are less fortunate than I—this verse can be my new mantra.

Dear Lord, giver of light, be with us during this difficult and challenging time. Through your laws and decrees, help us understand your wisdom and give us simple ways to live each day. Amen.

Written by Maggie Shreve, Parish Associate for Jail Ministry

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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