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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, January 8, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Psalm 72:1–7, 10–14

Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.
May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
   and the hills, in righteousness.
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
   give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.
May he live while the sun endures,
   and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
   like showers that water the earth.
In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound,
   until the moon is no more.
May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles render him tribute,
   may the kings of Sheba and Seba bring gifts.
May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service.
For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy,
   and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life;
   and precious is their blood in his sight. (NRSV)

In this psalm, King Solomon asks for God’s help in ruling as the kind of king he wants to be. And what he’s asking for would certainly have surprised people. What Solomon values and who he strives to be is antithetical to how most would have described a successful king. Solomon doesn’t ask for things like wealth or a strong army. He asks for wisdom to rule with justice and mercy and to use his position of power to protect the poor, weak, and needy. In other words, although it was hundreds of years prior to Jesus’ birth, Solomon was asking to be like Jesus, the King of kings.

If I were to write a prayer like Solomon’s asking God to help me be successful and the kind of person I want to be, what would I ask for? I guess that depends on how I define success. American society generally defines it in terms of money, power, status, and accomplishments: the more of any of those things you have, the more “successful” you are. But if I think about being successful as being able to live the kind of life I want to live, I’m not sure that’s what I would ask for. I’d certainly need some level of those four things, but there are other things I’d need too, like patience, passion, and clarity. It’s an interesting question to ponder as I balance life as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and professional.

Generous God, as I look ahead in this new year, guide my discernment of what it means to be successful. May I question not only what society tells me, but what I’ve been telling myself. Give me courage to ask tough questions and to make choices that better align my life to the answers. Amen.

Written by Nicole Spirgen, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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