Daily Devotions

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Pay Attention

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"Nevertheless I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me with honor." (Psalm 73:23-24)

 

The psalm expresses the good news of God's presence in our lives and the future that transcends the boundary of death. The Psalms, and the majority of the Old Testament has little belief in a resurrection of individual souls to heaven. But in this psalm, as stated in The New Interpreter's Bible Commentary, while "most interpreters find no evidence here for a developed doctrine of resurrection; however, v. 24b clearly pushes the boundaries of the usual Israelite conception of life and death."

 

The psalmist finds that human expressions of goodness, happiness, and peace are lacking, when not influenced by God's presence. Living a faithful life is worth the effort, because it allows us to feel the joyous presence of the divine in our midst. That divine "peace" and hesed "Loving kindness" fills the soul with great joy. You cannot buy it, or trade for it. It is a great gift, that cannot be earned. It is valuable apart from the promise of an afterlife.

 

God stands all around us, trying to get our attention. We are extremely good at ignoring God's presence. In prayer, in living morally, ethically, and with concern for justice, we begin to accept God's attention. We feel the divine joy surge through our very being. We begin to trust in God's power to change the reality of death into new life. It begins with your prayer, opening yourself to the presence of God.

Justice and Righteousness

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"Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king's son." (Psalm 72:1)

 

 The traditional understanding is that the king in question is Solomon. Yet, Psalm 72 continued to be used after the disappearance of the monarchy. According to The New Interpreter's Bible Commentary, "Verse 1 clearly marks the beginning of Psalm 72 as a prayer, and it introduces the two key words and concepts: justice and righteousness." The words "justice" and "righteousness" are not simply for the earthly king to determine. These fundamental words define how the king is to live out God's royal policy.

Both "justice" and "righteousness" are not words used to honor the king. "Justice" and "righteousness" focus on the poor and those in need. Hence, the role of the king is to be God's representative in caring for the poor and needy. To be a "ruler" is not about self-aggrandizement, but about caring for the daily and long-term needs of the poor and needy.


Pray for our political leaders today, and pray for our presidential candidates as well. Then, pray for America's citizenry, that we will seek a President and other political leaders who will focus less on their own ego and more on the needs of our poor and needy. We are only as strong as the weakest among us. The Psalms do not focus on heaven, at the expense of our earth. For the Psalms, our world, and all the human beings in it, are valued. We live not simply to get our ticket punched for heaven, but to make a difference in this world that God cares so much to restore.

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