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Devotionals

Commentator J. Clinton McCann describes Psalm 109 as "a submission to God of rage, hurt, and demand for justice." He says further:

"The Psalmist had been victimized, and when persons become victims, they are bound to react with rage. C.S. Lewis says that Psalm 109 shows 'the natural result of injuring a human being.' When persons are treated unjustly, we can expect them to lash out. We can expect them to express vehemently the desire for an end to the violence that has made them a victim. In other words, we can expect them to demand justice....When we hear Psalm 109 as a victim's appeal for justice, then 'what we thought was a poisonous yearning for vengeance sounds more like a just claim submitted to the real judge.'...The psalmist affirms that God's steadfast love means judgment upon victimizers for the sake of the victims--the poor and needy. Psalm 109 thus teaches us who God is, what God wills and does, and what God would have us do. To be instructed by Psalm 109 is to take our stand with God, which means we shall stand with the poor and needy as well."

Perhaps today, then, Psalm 109 might be our prayer for others: that where there is injustice, God's strong hand and steadfast love would rescue and deliver. Perhaps today we might also read it as a call to us: to stand on the side of those crying out for justice.

Psalm 109

1 Do not be silent, O God of my praise.

2 For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me, speaking against me with lying tongues.

3 They beset me with words of hate, and attack me without cause.

4 In return for my love they accuse me, even while I make prayer for them.

5 So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love.

6 They say, “Appoint a wicked man against him; let an accuser stand on his right.

7 When he is tried, let him be found guilty; let his prayer be counted as sin.

8 May his days be few; may another seize his position.

9 May his children be orphans, and his wife a widow.

10 May his children wander about and beg; may they be driven out of the ruins they inhabit.

11 May the creditor seize all that he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil.

12 May there be no one to do him a kindness, nor anyone to pity his orphaned children.

13 May his posterity be cut off; may his name be blotted out in the second generation.

14 May the iniquity of his father be remembered before the Lord, and do not let the sin of his mother be blotted out.

15 Let them be before the Lord continually, and may his memory be cut off from the earth.

16 For he did not remember to show kindness, but pursued the poor and needy and the brokenhearted to their death.

17 He loved to curse; let curses come on him. He did not like blessing; may it be far from him.

18 He clothed himself with cursing as his coat, may it soak into his body like water, like oil into his bones.

19 May it be like a garment that he wraps around himself, like a belt that he wears every day.”

20 May that be the reward of my accusers from the Lord, of those who speak evil against my life.

21 But you, O Lord my Lord, act on my behalf for your name’s sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me.

22 For I am poor and needy, and my heart is pierced within me.

23 I am gone like a shadow at evening; I am shaken off like a locust.

24 My knees are weak through fasting; my body has become gaunt.

25 I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they shake their heads.

26 Help me, O Lord my God! Save me according to your steadfast love.

27 Let them know that this is your hand; you, O Lord, have done it.

28 Let them curse, but you will bless. Let my assailants be put to shame; may your servant be glad.

29 May my accusers be clothed with dishonor; may they be wrapped in their own shame as in a mantle.

30 With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord; I will praise him in the midst of the throng.

31 For he stands at the right hand of the needy, to save them from those who would condemn them to death.

Scholars point out that Psalm 108 is a combination of verses from two earlier Psalms: Psalm 57 and Psalm 60. In other words, Psalm 108 uses old words for new circumstances--for the people of Israel, the new experience of Psalm 108 was that of exile.

Our own walk through the Psalms these past months has also sought to hear these old words in our new circumstances. We understand scripture to be alive for us, and relevant to us. What words in Psalm 108 are alive and relevant for you today?

Leonard Bernstein used these words from Psalm 108 (in the original Hebrew) to open his Chichester Psalms composition: "Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn."



Psalm 108

1 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make melody. Awake, my soul!

2 Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn.

3 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples, and I will sing praises to you among the nations.

4 For your steadfast love is higher than the heavens, and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth.

6 Give victory with your right hand, and answer me, so that those whom you love may be rescued.

7 God has promised in his sanctuary: “With exultation I will divide up Shechem, and portion out the Vale of Succoth.

8 Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet; Judah is my scepter.

9 Moab is my washbasin; on Edom I hurl my shoe; over Philistia I shout in triumph.”

10 Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom?

11 Have you not rejected us, O God? You do not go out, O God, with our armies.

12 O grant us help against the foe, for human help is worthless.

13 With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.

For today's time of devotion, let's read Psalm 107 in conversation with yesterday's news.

vv. 4-7, 35-43 "Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to an inhabited town; hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress; he led them by a straight way, until they reached an inhabited town....He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water. And there he lets the hungry live, and they establish a town to live in; they sow fields, and plant vineyards, and get a fruitful yield. By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their cattle decrease. When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, trouble, and sorrow, he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes; but he raises up the needy out of distress, and makes their families like flocks.The upright see it and are glad; and all wickedness stops its mouth. Let those who are wise give heed to these things, and consider the steadfast love of the Lord."


Psalm 107

1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.

2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, those he redeemed from trouble

3 and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.

4 Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to an inhabited town;

5 hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them.

6 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress;

7 he led them by a straight way, until they reached an inhabited town.

8 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind.

9 For he satisfies the thirsty, and the hungry he fills with good things.

10 Some sat in darkness and in gloom, prisoners in misery and in irons,

11 for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High.

12 Their hearts were bowed down with hard labor; they fell down, with no one to help.

13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress;

14 he brought them out of darkness and gloom, and broke their bonds asunder.

15 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind.

16 For he shatters the doors of bronze, and cuts in two the bars of iron.

17 Some were sick through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities endured affliction;

18 they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death.

19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress;

20 he sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from destruction.

21 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind.

22 And let them offer thanksgiving sacrifices, and tell of his deeds with songs of joy.

23 Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the mighty waters;

24 they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep.

25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea.

26 They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their calamity;

27 they reeled and staggered like drunkards, and were at their wits’ end.

28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress;

29 he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.

30 Then they were glad because they had quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.

31 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humankind.

32 Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

33 He turns rivers into a desert, springs of water into thirsty ground,

34 a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the wickedness of its inhabitants.

35 He turns a desert into pools of water, a parched land into springs of water.

36 And there he lets the hungry live, and they establish a town to live in;

37 they sow fields, and plant vineyards, and get a fruitful yield.

38 By his blessing they multiply greatly, and he does not let their cattle decrease.

39 When they are diminished and brought low through oppression, trouble, and sorrow,

40 he pours contempt on princes and makes them wander in trackless wastes;

41 but he raises up the needy out of distress, and makes their families like flocks.

42 The upright see it and are glad; and all wickedness stops its mouth.

43 Let those who are wise give heed to these things, and consider the steadfast love of the Lord.

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