Psalms 14, 58, 105, 130, 148 (New Revised Standard Version)
Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
there is no one who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind
to see if there are any who are wise,
who seek after God.
They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse;
there is no one who does good,
no, not one.
Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread,
and do not call upon the Lord?
There they shall be in great terror,
for God is with the company of the righteous.
You would confound the plans of the poor,
but the Lord is their refuge.
O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion!
When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people,
Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.
Our Lenten Devotions this year are focused on the Psalms, and our instructions noted that they cover the entire range of human emotions: joy, anger, confusion, grief, surprise, and serenity, a perfect match for our times. Like many, I have recently been finding myself a bit stressed over the prospects for our future. We are entering year three of the pandemic and our political structure is in disarray. Uncertainty is everywhere, and it seems to bring out the worst in us. Division and hostility split the country. Leaders stridently push distrust in our medical scientists, elections, schools, literally in any public activity. So, what did the psalmists say about their time?
Clearly, they too were stressed. Psalm 14.1 begins “Fools say … ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt … do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.” The psalmist expands this view, ending (14.7) with a plea to the Lord for deliverance and the restoration of the fortunes of His people. Psalm 58 continues in the same vein. Leaders do not judge people fairly, they devise wrongs, they deal out violence on earth. Again, the psalmist calls for vengeance and ends saying, “surely there is a God who judges on earth.”
Psalm 105 tells us that there is. In detail (45 verses), it repeats the stories of God’s historic faithfulness to His people. It begins with the covenant with Abraham, then the story of Joseph’s slavery in Egypt and their survival in the famine, and finally the calling of Moses and the Exodus into the Promised Land. Psalm 130 further reminds us that God does hear our supplications (130.2), forgives our mistakes (130.4), and His steadfast love is our hope in all things (130.7). Finally, in Psalm 148, we join all of creation to praise the Lord, for He created and controls all of it.
Dear God, in these times of stress and uncertainty, we ask again for the sure knowledge of your faithfulness and constant presence with us. May it sustain our confidence and our hope as we pass through difficult times. Amen.