Today's Scripture Reading
You Will Not Abandon My Soul
A Miktam of David.
16:1 Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.
4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.
5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
7 I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
8 I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
When I was younger, I thought all the thoughts and values in the Psalms reflected God’s thoughts and values. But that was not a comfortable understanding of the Psalms for me. I wasn’t sure I liked the Psalms. There is some rough stuff in there: “Happy shall they be who take your little ones and dash them against the rock!” (Psalm 137:9). Is God supporting the murder of children? The Psalmist often assumes that his own enemies are God’s enemies: “Rise up, O Lord, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies;” (Psalm 7:6a). Wouldn’t it be nice to think that God always agreed with me!? And is God really sometimes absent?: “Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress.” (Psalm 102:2).
It was so freeing to learn that the Psalms are a collection of corporate prayers of God’s people offered in worship to God. They reflect the real human complexity of our relationship with God and each other. Reading the Psalms in that perspective taught me that we are free to be honest and vulnerable with God in our worship and prayers. We can offer glad Psalms of praise and we can safely and honestly share our fears and limitations. We can even question our God in worship: “I say to God, my rock, ‘Why have you forgotten me?’” (Psalm 42:9a). What a loving and faithful God who can receive all that we are – proud moments and deep feelings that we might not be so proud of like hate for our ‘enemies!’
In this second week of Easter in the church calendar, the lectionary points us to Psalm 16. This ancient prayer is a glorious response to Easter, to the joyful recognition that we are not defined by death, that God’s love and faithfulness continues on in history. Holy God, you do not give me up to Sheol! Jesus, you show me the path of life! In your presence there is fullness of joy!
What is your heartfelt prayer response to Easter right now? Is it a psalm of praise? Is it a lament? Whatever it is, offer it to God. God loves you and will receive your heart.
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