Psalm 108:1-2 (NIV) My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul. 2 Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn.
When I start to play the piano, my dog April often comes running. She plops down under the piano and is almost in a trance as I play. Music does have what it takes to soothe animals- and many humans! David, who wrote this psalm, was excited about making music for God. He was so excited that he was willing to get up before sunrise to do it. No doubt this music soothed David, as well. When have we been that excited to do things for God (or others, God’s children)? Perhaps, during this time of extended reflection for many of us, we can rethink how we want to relate to God and others. If interaction with God or others is drudgery, then what can we do to make it fun? If we can do that, connecting with God and others can be fun for them, too. Maybe music that excites us.
Beloved God, show me how to please you and be excited to connect with you. Amen.
2 Kings 24:8-9 (NIV) Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother’s name was Nehushta daughter of Elnathan; she was from Jerusalem. 9 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father had done.
This passage from Kings looks pretty ordinary. It’s part of Israel’s history. But look at verse 9. Jehoiachin did evil. Every king in the book of Kings is rated good or evil. Most of the kings in Israel’s history did evil. Only a few did good. Some were a mix of good and evil, like David and Solomon. Kings used to have absolute power. Israel’s history shows clearly why most today do not. That’s why our founding fathers decided against a king. It is hard to have absolute power. It is easy to do evil because there are few people who are willing to advise you not to. Whenever we have power over another person, we must be very careful. The more power, the greater the potential to do evil. Almost everyone has some power. We may be in government like Jehoiachin was. The power may be with our spouse, our kids or our employees. Wealth can be power. We will be judged by God on how we use our power.
Perfect Judge, help us to use our power wisely for good. Amen
Hosea 3:1-2 (NRSV) And the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” 2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech (homer+lethech=about 8 bushels) of barley.
To modern ears this story is horrible. People being bought and sold! Yet in order to understand the intended meaning of these verses, we must try to get beyond ourselves and hear it as the ancient Israelites did. Not easy, but necessary. The woman in the verses above was a prostitute. Unlike today, prostitutes were considered totally at fault for being a prostitute. We know better, but the point here is redemption. God asks Hosea to redeem the woman, so he can understand how God feels when Israel turn to pleasure and other gods. Even more important is to show to Hosea how great God’s love is, so he can tell Israel. In the book, Hosea’s wife sins again and again, yet Hosea still reaches out to her. God loves us regardless of how we act. God is always willing to take us back and redeem us when we repent.
Loving and Forgiving God, thank you for being patient with us when we sin, and for taking us back each time. Amen.
Psalm 130:5-6 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) 5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; 6 my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.
The Psalms were songs the people of Israel had. They were beautiful expressions of faith and the human experience. Often, they were direct expressions of what folks felt at that particular moment in time. Sometimes what they felt was not comfortable, but they were honest true examples of how real people react and are .They felt anger and expressed that anger to God. They were depressed and declared how sad they were.
Today the Psalmist (David or another musician) was asking God to intervene in a difficult time. We don’t know what that circumstance was, but it doesn’t really matter: we all have felt what the psalmist felt. Many of the Psalms are those of sick people wanting a cure.
We can surely relate! How many of us these last few weeks have cried to God as the writer of Psalm 130 did? Yet in that Psalmist’s cry is also patience, and trust in God’s goodness. The verses above show that faith in God.
Why God, at times, seems not to intervene when we cry for help is one of faith’s greatest mystery. Why wouldn’t God help us overcome Coronavirus? We have no answer. It is hard to trust God. Yet not trusting God is even harder.
God of All Power, help us to wait patiently for the end of Coronavirus and to all this life’s suffering. Renew our faith in your goodness. Amen.
Proverbs 15:1 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) 15 A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.
Human nature has not changed since this proverb was penned thousands of years ago. When I was a parent of young teens (my youngest is 18, now) I relearned this proverb the hard way. With a teen, if they are venting anger at you and you send anger back at them, Watch Out! They will double that anger and send it bouncing back to you. But answering quietly and firmly usually calmed them down. Then we could discuss what they were angry about. How I wish we could all follow the advice of the proverb doing these over-exciting days of shut-downs and stays-at-home! For the advice of the proverb writer works not only with teens, but with all people. We need to work hard to keep our emotions in check in such turbulent times as these or our situation will be even worse. The best leaders are not the least passionate, but the most able to control their emotions.
Jesus Christ, help me to be a calming influence in this world, so I can be part of solutions. Amen
Psalm 144:3-4 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) 3 O LORD, what are human beings that you regard them, or mortals that you think of them? 4 They are like a breath; their days are like a passing shadow.
This passage is a little close to home for us in 2020. We humans are full of contrasts. We are incredibly resilient, yet Coronavirus has, in the words of my Dad, “thrown us for a loop.”
Compared to most plagues of bygone days, the current is weak, and yet it very great in its effect on countries and the world economy. Why? The world is a more complex than it was in years past, and we are more interconnected as a world. With modern aviation, a virus can spread from anywhere in the world to anywhere else in a matter of hours. Like it or not, our destinies are linked to others.
We humans would like to believe that we are masters of our own destiny, and yet there are things in this world we are helpless to overcome. The ways of God are far beyond us. If we can gain anything in this horrible year, it is, perhaps, humility and patience. It has certainly given me an appreciation of the simple joys I had in ordinary times, and God willing, will have again soon. How about you?
Jesus Christ, we mortals do not fully understand the mysteries of life. Preserve us as you will, keep us from harm, and teach us patience to endure what we earthbound creatures must. Amen. Amen.