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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, November 27, 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)

“For though the Lord is high, God regards the lowly; but the haughty God perceives from far away.”

Although Psalm 138 is a psalm of thanksgiving for deliverance, this famous verse helps encapsulate one of the great paradoxes of our faith: that an almighty God would care deeply for every being within creation, even while we as people create divisions and distinctions amongst ourselves. This idea is a cornerstone of our faith, and yet we often don’t stop to consider the radical implications that it should have for us and our world.

In ancient Israel (and nearly every country in human history, including our own), society was heavily stratified based on factors such as class, race, gender, age, and other markers of identity. Those with power would use that power to their own benefit, which in turn led to deep inequality within Israel. However, in verse 6 we hear God seeking to level the playing field: God will regard (alternate Hebrew translation, “look after”) the lowly, while the haughty will be looked at from afar.

While those in power might look at this as its own sort of inequity, the clear sense is that God seeking to reestablish equality between all of creation—and this desire to address inequity and to lift up those whom society has brought low should be a guide for us. Because God cares deeply for all of creation, we are called to care deeply as well.

Almighty God, we are in awe of your care and concern for all creation, and we humbly ask that you might help us feel the same. Help us to look after those whom our society has forgotten, for you have embraced us all as your children. Amen.

Written by Matt Helms, Associate Pastor for Children and Family Ministry

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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