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Lent Day 31

Day 31: Wednesday, 10 April

Psalm 22:1-21

A David Psalm

22 1-2 God, God . . . my God!
      Why did you dump me
      miles from nowhere?
Doubled up with pain, I call to God
      all the day long. No answer. Nothing.
I keep at it all night, tossing and turning.

3-5 And you! Are you indifferent, above it all,
      leaning back on the cushions of Israel’s praise?
We know you were there for our parents:
      they cried for your help and you gave it;
      they trusted and lived a good life.

6-8 And here I am, a nothing—an earthworm,
      something to step on, to squash.
Everyone pokes fun at me;
      they make faces at me, they shake their heads:
“Let’s see how God handles this one;
      since God likes him so much, let him help him!”

9-11 And to think you were midwife at my birth,
      setting me at my mother’s breasts!
When I left the womb you cradled me;
      since the moment of birth you’ve been my God.
Then you moved far away
      and trouble moved in next door.
I need a neighbour.

12-13 Herds of bulls come at me,
      the raging bulls stampede,
Horns lowered, nostrils flaring,
      like a herd of buffalo on the move.

14-15 I’m a bucket kicked over and spilled,
      every joint in my body has been pulled apart.
My heart is a blob
      of melted wax in my gut.
I’m dry as a bone,
      my tongue black and swollen.
They have laid me out for burial
      in the dirt.

16-18 Now packs of wild dogs come at me;
      thugs gang up on me.
They pin me down hand and foot,
      and lock me in a cage—a bag
Of bones in a cage, stared at
      by every passer-by.
They take my wallet and the shirt off my back,
      and then throw dice for my clothes.

19-21 You, God—don’t put off my rescue!
      Hurry and help me!
Don’t let them cut my throat;
      don’t let those mongrels devour me.
If you don’t show up soon,
      I’m done for—gored by the bulls,
      meat for the lions.

MSG

David is in the throes of a failing relationship with God. Wherever he looks, he cannot seem to find God. While some people may not think of God from one day to the next, David is acutely aware of both God’s presence in his life and his absence from it. David’s mood, his outlook, his whole being reflects whether God is present with him or not.

In this Psalm David expresses that he is sensing God’s absence from his life. Because he is aware that he can do nothing without God’s help, he is helpless. Lost and helpless without God. God is the source of David’s strength, his status, his power to reign and to succeed in battle. He might as well be a worm.

He describes his loss in terms of real pain, wasted waking time and sleeplessness. It’s as if his batteries have been pulled out and his failing power is causing his system to shut down.

So, God, where are you? Are you content to sit back and enjoy the praises of the rest of them, and not care about me? David’s words in verse 8 sound very similar to those who mocked Jesus: Let God deliver him, if he (God) is pleased with him. This psalm does not contain, as many do, a twist at the end calling for the destruction of enemies; this one will end on a higher note. It contains overtones that are a hint to Jesus’ suffering and death. Read it through a few times so that you might partner with that to some degree.

Then you moved away – how do we cope with times when God is not around?

I hinted above at the indifferent, those who have no desire to grow in God’s presence (or suffer from His absence). Some may choose to keep God at a distance because having God close disrupts things, challenges our thoughts and actions, makes demands on our lives. A quiet life outside in a sandbox may seem preferable, but the blessings God gives far, far outweigh the trouble He allows. Just one day in the presence of God is better than a thousand spent anywhere else (Psalm 84), Disney World, the QE2, Portman Road (a refuge for failed hopes), whatever. A thousand days might be paraphrased as ‘my life’.

In Psalm 51, David pleads with God not to hide his face from him. In Psalm 27 David responds to his heart’s call to seek God’s face. To take this literally might cause problems, as God himself said, “no-one may see me, and live!” In Christ we have access to Father God, and if we are living in Christ, we are bold to approach Father God. If God seems distant, start with Jesus.

Have there been times when God has seemed far away? If you look back and reflect on them, does God reveal why this might have been? Do you see those times as a loss, or an opportunity to grow? (I am not telling you what you should think.)

Father God, you are ever more ready to listen than I am to pray, and in the darkest parts of my life you are there. I claim access to your throne room through Jesus, who opened the way for me. Amen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaJ-moIjATU My God, my God, …

All Scripture quotations are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Paul

Lent Day 30

Day 30: Tuesday, 9 April

Psalm 51

For the director of music. A psalm of David. When the prophet Nathan came to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba.

1 Have mercy on me, O God,
      according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
      blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
      and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
      and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
      and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
      and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
      sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
      you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
      wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
      let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
      and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
      and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
      or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
      and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
      so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
      you who are God my Saviour,
      and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
      and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
      you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
      a broken and contrite heart
      you, God, will not despise.

18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
      to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
      in burnt offerings offered whole;
      then bulls will be offered on your altar.

NIV

David is in deep, deep trouble with God. The introduction tells it as it is. David knows better than to deny the truth like some local and transatlantic leaders may have done, and the shame of what he did has the rare honour of being repeated once every seven weeks until Kingdom Come in the Anglican Daily Prayer cycle.

David was a murderer. No two ways about it. Nathan had the task of telling him so. As I frequently say, ‘Who’d be a prophet?!’

Verses 1 to 4 cover the span of the wretchedness of humankind to the infinite compassion, love and mercy of God. David is crushed, and he knows he deserves to be punished severely. He falls upon God’s mercy. He also admits to having been in a state of sinfulness from his mother’s womb, from the moment of his conception. This is consistent with the Church’s teaching on original sin. We could talk much about this, but another time. If only the mighty and powerful in our world could but utter these words.

Hyssop is a purgative. David was probably talking figuratively here, but he knew that he desired from God a deep cleansing through his whole being so that he was clean inside, and outside through cleansing to snow-whiteness.

Read this psalm again, and again, today. Read it loud, read it soft.

Was David right in saying that he had sinned against God only?

How would you describe sin to someone who asks?

Are children, being born into sin, sinful people?

How would you respond if someone were to ask you if he or she is a sinner?

Father God, there is no getting away with anything before You. You see it all, you hear it all. You see what I try to hide from You, and you turn your nose up at my excuses. Until I admit my sin You cannot forgive me. I stand open before you. Amen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=px-eU1QjQiU – Create in me a clean heart, O God.

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version (Anglicised Edition) Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica (formerly International Bible Society). Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, a Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. "NIV" is a registered trademark of Biblica – UK trademark number 1448790.

Paul

Lent Day 29

Day 29: Monday, 8 April

Psalm 27

The Lord Is My Light and My Salvation

Of David.

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
      whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
      of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When evildoers assail me
      to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
      it is they who stumble and fall.

3 Though an army encamp against me,
      my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
      yet I will be confident.

 

4 One thing have I asked of the Lord,
      that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
      all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
      and to inquire in his temple.

5 For he will hide me in his shelter
      in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
      he will lift me high upon a rock.

6 And now my head shall be lifted up
      above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
      sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.

 

7 Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
      be gracious to me and answer me!
8 You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
      “Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
9    Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
      O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
      O God of my salvation!
10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me,
      but the Lord will take me in.

 

11 Teach me your way, O Lord,
      and lead me on a level path
      because of my enemies.
12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries;
      for false witnesses have risen against me,
      and they breathe out violence.

 

13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
      in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
      be strong, and let your heart take courage;
      wait for the Lord!

ESV

I can’t place my finger on what it is about this psalm that I love so much. It may be a mixture of the way the psalmist describes God’s protection over him (and therefore, me) and his (my) desire to remain, to rest, to stay in God’s presence.

David was not a priest (his sons are oddly listed as priests) and it was his son Solomon who built the Temple, but David still knew about the close presence of God. He had the Ark of the Covenant, one of the most holy objects from the Tent of Meeting, moved to Jerusalem. The Ark was a central artefact as it contained objects significant to the Jewish faith and it was over the Ark that the presence of God had been revealed to the High Priests of old in the Tent of Meeting. God did not always speak directly with David – God’s plans were more often revealed to prophets who then had the task of relaying the good or bad news to the king.

All the same, David could draw on his experience of God’s present protection from foes without and within and his past support for David in battle. This was enough to bring David before God in worship. It is a gift of God in Christ that I, and you, may dwell in God’s presence. No condemnation now I dread, so Bold I approach th’eternal throne. God calls us to rest in his presence. This must be the desire of our hearts. It is easy to fall into the trap of busy-ness – we so much want to be seen to be busy for God that we take no time to rest in him, and we run on empty. Time for God can quickly become Whatever Time’s left, if any, for God.

It’s not easy to stop and rest. What will I say? What should I do? What words should I use? How do I hear what God’s saying? Am I listening correctly? The simple answer is that if you spend time, the rest will follow on naturally. Holy pauses in your day, grace over a meal, turning the telly off, Face-time with God, all of these help build the relationship.

Pauses for God are not freestanding, separate activities that have no bearing on the rest of your life. They are actually necessary parts of your life that will enhance it. David acknowledges that because he spends time in God’s presence he is shielded and protected against his enemies. There is positive outcome from spending time with God. Take note of, and learn verse 14

How do I seek the Lord’s face? Perhaps by sensing his smile:

The Priestly Blessing

Numbers 6:22-27

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons to bless the people of Israel with this special blessing:

‘May the Lord bless you
      and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you
      and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favour
      and give you his peace.’

Whenever Aaron and his sons bless the people of Israel in my name, I myself will bless them.”

NLT

If you have not regularly spent time in God’s presence where might you go to do that? What might you need to take with you?

Father God, simply resting in your presence is better than reeling off prayers to you. Bring me home to you as I make the first steps. Amen.

Psalm 27 sung in Hebrew (with subtitles): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMZkqhZFVqc

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version ® (ESV ®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

The Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Paul

Lent Day 28

Day 28: Saturday, 6 April

Psalm 119: Pe

129-136

Every word you give me is a miracle word—
      how could I help but obey?
Break open your words, let the light shine out,
      let ordinary people see the meaning.
Mouth open and panting,
      I wanted your commands more than anything.
132 Turn my way, look kindly on me,
      as you always do to those who personally love you.
Steady my steps with your Word of promise
      so nothing malign gets the better of me.
Rescue me from the grip of bad men and women
      so I can live life your way.
Smile on me, your servant;
      teach me the right way to live.
I cry rivers of tears
      because nobody’s living by your book!

MSG

129 Thy testimonies are wonderful: therefore doth my soul keep them.

130 The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.

131 I opened my mouth, and panted: for I longed for thy commandments.

132 Look thou upon me, and be merciful unto me, as thou usest to do unto those that love thy name.

133 Order my steps in thy word: and let not any iniquity have dominion over me.

134 Deliver me from the oppression of man: so will I keep thy precepts.

135 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant; and teach me thy statutes.

136 Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law.

AV

The young man puts total trust in the word of God. We should not assume that he has a permanent line to God – God’s commands and teachings, testimonies, precepts and statutes are all to be found in the Scriptures.

Young men may need answers more quickly than older ones, yet this young man trusts in the scriptures, and also knows that he will need God’s help in understanding them. It would be good to learn verses 132 and 133 for times when we get ourselves into a pickle. We may trust in the Lord God, because He will look with mercy on those who love him. Do you love him enough to trust him? His promises are good to settle our fears in any situation and for us to trust.

Do you sense God smiling on you as you read the Scriptures?

What do you do when a passage of Scripture seems hard to understand?

Father God, I want to say alongside this young man that every word you give me is a miracle word! Reveal the truth of your word in the Bible so that as I read it, I become more aware of its deep truth. Amen.

https://eternalevangelism.com/psalm-119-sung-acapella/ Pick the first section and let it run.

From The Authorized (King James) Version. Rights in the Authorized Version are vested in the Crown. Reproduced by permission of the Crown’s patentee, Cambridge University Press.

Scripture quotations taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Paul

Lent Day 27

Day 27: Friday, 5 April

Psalm 119: Gimel and Daleth

17-24 Be generous with me and I’ll live a full life;
      not for a minute will I take my eyes off your road.
Open my eyes so I can see
      what you show me of your miracle-wonders.
I’m a stranger in these parts;
      give me clear directions.
My soul is starved and hungry, ravenous!—
      insatiable for your nourishing commands.
And those who think they know so much,
      ignoring everything you tell them—let them have it!
Don’t let them mock and humiliate me;
      I’ve been careful to do just what you said.
While bad neighbours maliciously gossip about me,
      I’m absorbed in pondering your wise counsel.
Yes, your sayings on life are what give me delight;
      I listen to them as to good neighbours!

 

25-32 I’m feeling terrible—I couldn’t feel worse!
      Get me on my feet again. You promised, remember?
When I told my story, you responded;
      train me well in your deep wisdom.
Help me understand these things inside and out
      so I can ponder your miracle-wonders.
My sad life’s dilapidated, a falling-down barn;
      build me up again by your Word.
Barricade the road that goes Nowhere;
      grace me with your clear revelation.
I choose the true road to Somewhere,
      I post your road signs at every curve and corner.
I grasp and cling to whatever you tell me;
      God, don’t let me down!
I’ll run the course you lay out for me
      if you’ll just show me how.

With all the excitement and good intentions of youthfulness, the writer expresses his deep desire to follow God closely. Hunger is part of the language of youth, and while the original text is more about desire and longing, the description is good. Again we see the ongoing motif of the proud, wicked, the unrighteous, the enemy.

The writer talks of hungering after God. Our hunger is satisfied with the good food of the Bible and time spent meditating upon it, in prayer time with Father God and by coming into the congregation of the righteous (i.e. turning up to church).

Verses 25 onwards bring in a theme of mortality. The Authorised Version renders verse 25 thus:

 my soul cleaveth unto the dust: quicken thou me according to thy word.

The writer recognises the failure of his own power to drag himself up from the floor. Only God can do that – look to his word.

The course of life without God is structureless, and with Him it can be a scary ride in the dark. We are called to hold on, to grasp, to trust in God for everything, relying on nothing of our own strength.

Are dry times to be expected?

Father God, my journey with You can take some turns in direction that may leave me breathless, either through excitement or through exhaustion. In either case You lift me up. Amen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlUfRqGD7Wg Simple setting of the words.

All Scripture quotations are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Paul

Lent Day 26

Day 26: Thursday, 4 April

Psalm 119: Aleph

אַשְׁרֵ֥י תְמִֽימֵי־דָ֑רֶךְ הַ֜הֹֽלְכִ֗ים בְּתוֹרַ֥ת יְהֹוָֽה

You’re blessed when you stay on course,
      walking steadily on the road revealed by God.
You’re blessed when you follow his directions,
      doing your best to find him.
That’s right—you don’t go off on your own;
      you walk straight along the road he set.
You, God, prescribed the right way to live;
      now you expect us to live it.
Oh, that my steps might be steady,
      keeping to the course you set;
Then I’d never have any regrets
      in comparing my life with your counsel.
I thank you for speaking straight from your heart;
      I learn the pattern of your righteous ways.
I’m going to do what you tell me to do;
      don’t ever walk off and leave me.

MSG

Not everyone will read Psalm 119 in its entirety, but they might pick up a lightweight book at the airport or station and read it in a few hours. Yes, I know, there’s light reading and there’s heavy reading, but Psalm 119 is actually not that heavy, and in the lively translation of recently departed Eugene Peterson it can jump off the page at you.

As to structure, I will only say that there are regular sections taking an acrostic, and it is very clever how it works, even if you don’t hear it in translation. The opening line is displayed at the top – don’t forget to read it right to left, otherwise you’ll miss the acrostic (and it won’t make a lot of sense). If you want to learn more, then this may help: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psalm_119

The psalm covers the worries and complaints that a young man brings before God as he tries to follow a pattern of life consistent with the law of Moses. Over 22 ordered eight-line stanzas his unordered, sometimes chaotic life is laid out in its rawness and searing honesty. His complaints are not aimed directly at God – he seeks God’s help in understanding and dealing with the difficulties of life.

The psalm starts like a New Year resolution. The writer admits before God that His way is the right way, but he is going to need God to be close at hand if he’s going to make it through the difficulties of life.

Do you know the direction in which you’re walking?

Are you following the road signs?

Do you know where the road is leading?

How do you recognise distractions?

Father God, I want to walk in step with your Holy Spirit’s leading. I will be satisfied with the journey, the pace, the rough terrain and the smooth, for you alone know the way you want me to go. Amen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Vif_Q27nBY metrical version

All Scripture quotations are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Paul

Lent Day 25

Day 25: Wednesday, 3 April

Psalm 37: 21-31

21 The wicked borrow and do not repay,
      but the righteous give generously;
22 those the Lord blesses will inherit the land,
      but those he curses will be destroyed.

23 The Lord makes firm the steps
      of the one who delights in him;
24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
      for the Lord upholds him with his hand.

25 I was young and now I am old,
      yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
      or their children begging bread.
26 They are always generous and lend freely;
      their children will be a blessing.

27 Turn from evil and do good;
      then you will dwell in the land forever.
28 For the Lord loves the just
      and will not forsake his faithful ones.

Wrongdoers will be completely destroyed;
      the offspring of the wicked will perish.
29 The righteous will inherit the land
      and dwell in it forever.

30 The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
      and their tongues speak what is just.
31 The law of their God is in their hearts;
      their feet do not slip.

The banking crisis of a few years back, where mortgages considered to be sub-prime, because of the applicants’ higher risk of defaulting, were being packaged up and sold around to investors hoping to make a profit. The bubble grew and eventually burst, reducing house prices to a point below that of the mortgage. This could all be seen as what happens in the markets, but many people had no idea of the volatility of what they were signing up to. I leave it to you to decide whether greed was a factor in all this, and where it was to be found.

The wicked may be stealing a march financially over the righteous, who themselves may even be giving their money away. The righteous, however, trust God for his provision and protection, and He will deliver. Is it always this simple? We live in more complex times than those of the writer. People lived largely stable lives based on their land and livestock, and some were poor and others very well-off. There were the bankers and money-traders in the large towns who helped to oil the wheels of commerce, but the law did not allow large profits to be made out of lending. Inflation is non-existent in a world where things do not change.

Jesus condemned the Temple money-changers for their greed and their unholy abuse of the Temple. He did not condemn every tax collector. The widow’s penny was praised above the wealthy people’s gold.

Once we are able in our time to figure out what is good and right, in God’s eyes and not in comparison with the Jones’, we should begin to understand the blessings of God’s economy much better.

Don’t forget to read the whole psalm slowly – five minutes, max:

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+37&version=NIVUK

Will God always deliver for someone who invests to his rules?

How does God deliver for someone who invests in the growth of His kingdom?

Is it possible to eradicate poverty?

Father God, you delight in my giving. Everything is yours, anyway, and I cannot be blessed when I give you only what I have spare. Teach me to trust you more. Amen.

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version (Anglicised Edition) Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica (formerly International Bible Society). Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, a Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. "NIV" is a registered trademark of Biblica – UK trademark number 1448790.

Paul

Lent Day 24

Day 24: Tuesday, 2 April

Psalm 37:1-11

Of David.

1 Do not fret because of those who are evil
      or be envious of those who do wrong;
2 for like the grass they will soon wither,
      like green plants they will soon die away.

3 Trust in the Lord and do good;
      dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.
4 Take delight in the Lord,
      and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the Lord;
      trust in him and he will do this:
6 He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
      your vindication like the noonday sun.

7 Be still before the Lord
      and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when people succeed in their ways,
      when they carry out their wicked schemes.

8 Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
      do not fret—it leads only to evil.
9 For those who are evil will be destroyed,
      but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.

10 A little while, and the wicked will be no more;
      though you look for them, they will not be found.
11 But the meek will inherit the land
      and enjoy peace and prosperity.

NIV

This psalm is forty verses long and difficult to cut short without losing its integrity. However, we will look at just a couple of sections, and I would urge you to read it (out loud) in its entirety when you have up to five minutes to spare. Web link: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+37&version=NIVUK

This psalm contains teachings similar to those found in the book of Proverbs, but whereas the teacher in Proverbs pours out little two-line (poetically) individual nuggets of wisdom the psalmist expresses his wisdom in four-line groups that expand upon a theme.

We all may get the feeling in life that it’s unfair – why do the baddies always seem to get away with it? Why do they always seem to prosper? What about those corrupt politicians, leaders and despots, the money-grabbing bankers and confidence tricksters who have destroyed the savings of others, the bullies and abusers, and wonder when, or even if, they will get their just rewards. We should be aware that sometimes our sense of unfairness is fuelled by the propaganda of those who are pushing for a particular social/political outcome, and so our outbursts could be unfairly levelled at people who do not deserve them and who may in fact be far worse-off than we are.

We should also watch out that we do not ourselves become like the wicked. When we treat privilege as expectation, when we take perks as a right, when we sneer at the less fortunate, when we assume that we are superior to others, all these are symptoms of the deadly sin of pride. The young have a strong sense of injustice and unfairness, but they may also be prone to taking hasty, ill-advised action. To the powerless and oppressed there is a sense of being pushed down even further.

The writer is old, and has seen it all. He has been through similar experiences, but in the end, perhaps after some time, he can still report that God does uphold the righteous and their children.

The psalm opens with a warning that we should not get worked up over what our eyes see. In the bigger scheme this will be put right. Those who are evil and those who do wrong will not survive long. The verses that follow concentrate on how we should conduct ourselves. The essence is that we should learn to trust God, to be at rest in Him, to expect Him to act and to reward us. Too many people want immediate redress, instant closure, prompt action, but they have forgotten that this will not bring about the right result – the evil people will win every time.

What the writer is telling us is that God will take care of the evil and the wicked, and he will do that in his own way. We have to let go of the human desire for fairness and retribution and allow God to work his justice and righteousness, which go far beyond anything we can wield. Again and again in the Bible we read of the promises of God. They are either true or false. Will you trust your head or what God has said?

So, delight in God, wait patiently, commit to him, fret not, don’t get angry, and you will see how He sets things right.

What galls you about the unfairness in our world?

What breaks your heart about the unfairness in our world?

How does God feel?

Father God, I get righteous about things I may not even be right about, or have no right to get righteous about. I get angry and frustrated. Open your heart to me that I may see what causes you sorrow, and teach me to pray for the resolution of that, and that alone. Amen.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbGruMKwi7M Wait patiently

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGCZsZMgrXE Don’t worry

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version (Anglicised Edition) Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica (formerly International Bible Society). Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, a Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. "NIV" is a registered trademark of Biblica – UK trademark number 1448790.

Paul

Lent Day 23

Day 23: Monday, 1 April

Psalm 15

A psalm of David.

1 Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent?
      Who may live on your holy mountain?

2 The one whose way of life is blameless,
      who does what is righteous,
      who speaks the truth from their heart;
3 whose tongue utters no slander,
      who does no wrong to a neighbour,
      and casts no slur on others;
4 who despises a vile person
      but honours those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts,
      and does not change their mind;
5 who lends money to the poor without interest;
      who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.

Whoever does these things
      will never be shaken.

NIV

This psalm is a short but complete guide to living a holy life. The question is posed at the very beginning. Who, indeed, may come close to God? Should one who is not right before God dare to approach him as the result would be obliteration. God warned the people of Israel that while Moses was receiving the Ten Commandments, they should not set foot on that mountain upon pain of death. In God’s regulations for worship in the wilderness should any Israelite dare to fabricate without permission the spices used in the Tent of Worship the same fate awaited him. Who, indeed, may dwell in the sacred tent, or live on the holy mountain?

The psalmist offers a list of the qualities of one who may. It’s not like the rich young ruler who came to Jesus seeking eternal life, thinking that his obedience to the Law was in itself sufficient, only to discover that in his worldly life there were things that still needed to be put right. That man had a problem with his wealth, and he went away disappointed because he refused to trade things of this life for things of eternal life.

The qualities that may be found in one who would be acceptable before God in his sacred tent or upon his holy mountain are expressed in the following verses. They constitute a tall order, but not an impossible one. I am sure we would all want to be known as exemplars of these things. In this world it is not easy to be honoured by God and also by men. Which would you choose if you had to make the choice? You know the right answer, but are you prepared to live that life?

A blameless lifestyle accompanied by righteous and just action, devotion to truth, care about what words come out of one’s mouth, fair treatment of others, integrity, constancy, and willingness to use one’s money for the benefit of others (it’s interesting that money is lent, not given). Whoever does these will never be shaken.

Are you satisfied with the stand that you have taken in your life regarding the balance of earthly and heavenly things?

Father God, in Jesus I have access to your holy mountain without fear of death. His blood has paid the price for me. In Jesus I may be bold to approach your throne and sit at your feet. Teach me how to linger there. Amen.

Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version (Anglicised Edition) Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica (formerly International Bible Society). Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, a Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. "NIV" is a registered trademark of Biblica – UK trademark number 1448790.

Paul