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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, August 18, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Psalm 138

I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness;
for you have exalted your name and your word
above everything.
On the day I called, you answered me,
you increased my strength of soul.

All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O Lord,
for they have heard the words of your mouth.
They shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly;
but the haughty he perceives from far away.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies;
you stretch out your hand,
and your right hand delivers me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands. (NRSV)

When I read this psalm, I was struck by how apt the promise of the final two verses is for the times in which we are living. No doubt this is always true, but right now we are globally united as never before with people all over the world who are facing the same uncertainties, a fact which I think brings the promise of these verses into sharp focus.

I was particularly struck, however, by the words in the middle stanza of Psalm 138, verses 4 through 6. The psalmist (we are told it was David) seems to be prophesying a future in which the world is completely united. Having heard the powerful words of God and convinced of God’s steadfast love and support, all join in reverence and worship. I was struck by what a world that would be. A world in which such devotion to God existed would be a wonderful place, full of love and compassion, without war and violence, where all are valued and loved and extend love and respect to others.

We are unlikely to see this world realized in our lifetime, but this is surely the world God is calling us to create. We follow centuries of believers who have worked toward this goal, and we are charged with continuing that work. I keep a quote from Reinhold Niebuhr taped to my computer monitor that provides me with perspective on this sometimes-overwhelming task. It says, in part, “Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.”

Dear God, who does not forsake us, thank you for your promises to us. Keep us steadfast in our love for you and renew our hope as we work to create the world David prophesied. Amen.

Written by Juli Crabtree, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church 

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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