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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, June 21, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Psalm 22:19–28

But you, O Lord, do not be far away!
    O my help, come quickly to my aid!
Deliver my soul from the sword,
    my life from the power of the dog!
    Save me from the mouth of the lion!

From the horns of the wild oxen you have rescued me.
I will tell of your name to my brothers and sisters;
    in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him;
    stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel!
For he did not despise or abhor
    the affliction of the afflicted;
he did not hide his face from me
    but heard when I cried to him.

From you comes my praise in the great congregation;
    my vows I will pay before those who fear him.
The poor shall eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek him shall praise the Lord.
    May your hearts live forever!

All the ends of the earth shall remember
    and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    shall worship before him.
For dominion belongs to the Lord,
    and he rules over the nations. (NRSV)

In the first several verses, human strength has waned. The psalmist implores God to remain close and provide deliverance from the “sword” and “the power of the dog,” the latter perhaps being a metaphor for wicked people that menaced the exiled Israelites. The psalmist pivots to praising God for deliverance in verse 22, culminating in verse 24 with this assessment of God’s view of the human condition: “For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard” (KJV). This absolute and unequivocal affirmation of God’s steadfast caring is blessed assurance that God is not impervious or indifferent to the world’s plight. The “kingdom is the Lord’s.”

Souls have continued to be afflicted through the ages since this psalm was written, right up to the present age. Perhaps they were huddled in formerly safe spaces when disaster struck, such as in a steel mill when it was bombed as an act of declared war or in elementary school classrooms when a killer commandeered them. For others, robust health has given way to vigorous jousting with disease, armed with treatment protocols and faith, or financial comfort has become uncertainty in what may be an après-pandemic leaning world that is beset with challenging wartime and economic considerations.

Despite events or circumstances, we can grasp tightly the vision of the heart of God in this scripture, knowing that God sees and hears our concerns. We can ask God to draw near to care for us—again and again.

Merciful God, thank you for your steadfastness, your enduring love, and your unfailing penchant for delivering us. Imbue us with your spirit; enable us to keep our vows in the congregation and in the world. Amen.

Written by Jeanne Griffin, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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