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Devotionals

"On the day I called, you answered me,

you increased my strength of soul." 138: 3


Friends, take a moment this evening to listen to these words and may God increase the strength of your soul.


Let's pray together:

Bless us this night, O God,

and those whom we know and love.

Bless us this night, O God,

and those with whom we are not at peace.

Bless us this night, O God,

and every human family.

Bless us with deep sleep.

Bless us with dreams that will heal our soul.

Bless us with the night's silent messages of eternity

that we may be set free by love.

Bless us in the night, O God,

that we may be set free to love.

From Sounds of the Eternal and Sonidos de lo Eternal by John Philip Newell.

Psalm 138

1 I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;

before the gods I sing your praise;

2 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.[a]

3 On the day I called, you answered me,

you increased my strength of soul.[b]


4 All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O Lord,

for they have heard the words of your mouth.

5 They shall sing of the ways of the Lord,

for great is the glory of the Lord.

6 For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly;

but the haughty he perceives from far away.


7 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.

8 The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;

your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.

Do not forsake the work of your hands

Scholar J. Clinton McCann says this about Psalm 137: "One thing it teaches us...is the lesson that in extreme situations, grief and anger are both inevitable and inseparable. The worst possible response to monstrous evil is to feel nothing. What must be felt--by the victims and on behalf of the victims--are grief, rage, outrage. In the absence of these feelings, evil becomes an acceptable commonplace. In other words, to forget is to submit to evil, to wither and die; to remember is to resist, to be faithful, and to live again."


We are living in an extreme situation. A viral pandemic is an extreme situation. A racism pandemic is an extreme situation. Grief and anger are inevitable. As McCann writes, "to express grief and anger is to live."


The Psalms give us words to pray, to address God, to express the real and raw emotions of life. If you need words to express grief and anger, reach for Psalm 137--spoken or sung. We might recoil from its expression of vengeance, and yet also acknowledge that we have all known a desire for revenge within ourselves. May this psalm's honesty--may your honesty--lead you to life and to hope.


Psalm 137

1 By the rivers of Babylon— there we sat down and there we wept when we remembered Zion.

2 On the willows there we hung up our harps.

3 For there our captors asked us for songs, and our tormentors asked for mirth, saying, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”

4 How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?

5 If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither!

6 Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember you, if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy.

7 Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem’s fall, how they said, “Tear it down! Tear it down! Down to its foundations!”

8 O daughter Babylon, you devastator! Happy shall they be who pay you back what you have done to us!

9 Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock!



“...his steadfast love endures forever...”

This phrase appears 26 times in Psalm 136. I have always loved that this phrase uses the word “endure”. God’s love purposeful, defiant, strong, and there is absolutely nothing that can separate us from God’s love.

I wanted to share with you the song I talked about in my sermon yesterday, Guiding Light. Friends, may you always be led home by the light of God’s love.

Peace be with you and yours this night.



Psalm 136

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever. O give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures for ever. O give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures for ever;

who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures for ever; who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures for ever; who spread out the earth on the waters, for his steadfast love endures for ever; who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures for ever; the sun to rule over the day, for his steadfast love endures for ever; the moon and stars to rule over the night, for his steadfast love endures for ever;

who struck Egypt through their firstborn, for his steadfast love endures for ever; and brought Israel out from among them, for his steadfast love endures for ever; with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, for his steadfast love endures for ever; who divided the Red Sea in two, for his steadfast love endures for ever; and made Israel pass through the midst of it, for his steadfast love endures for ever; but overthrew Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea, for his steadfast love endures for ever; who led his people through the wilderness, for his steadfast love endures for ever; who struck down great kings, for his steadfast love endures for ever; and killed famous kings, for his steadfast love endures for ever; Sihon, king of the Amorites, for his steadfast love endures for ever; and Og, king of Bashan, for his steadfast love endures for ever; and gave their land as a heritage, for his steadfast love endures for ever; a heritage to his servant Israel, for his steadfast love endures for ever.

It is he who remembered us in our low estate, for his steadfast love endures for ever; and rescued us from our foes, for his steadfast love endures for ever; who gives food to all flesh, for his steadfast love endures for ever.

O give thanks to the God of heaven, for his steadfast love endures for ever.

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