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Friday, 27 February 2009

Some Psalms are more relevant than others

A volume called The Bible in One Year sits in my bathroom, of all places, open at the day's date. I've read through it more than once in years past, and now I am cherry-picking among the offerings for each day, from the New Testament, the Old Testament and the Psalms and Proverbs.

Yesterday's Psalm began: Vindicate me, O LORD,
for I have led a blameless life

and I thought, 'No.' The whole Psalm went on in this vein - God, I'm such a good chap that you ought to treat me well.

That's not what I have learned about God. He loves me with all my faults and failures, past and present. No extra brownie points for self-righteousness.

So it was great to read today's Psalm, 27. It's not evil men who are devouring my flesh, but cancer cells, but apart from that the whole Psalm fits me like a glove. Here it is.

The LORD is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.

3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.

4 One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.

6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the LORD.

7 Hear my voice when I call, O LORD;
be merciful to me and answer me.

8 My heart says of you, "Seek his face!"
Your face, LORD, I will seek.

9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Saviour.

10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.

11 Teach me your way, O LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.

12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.

13 I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.

14 Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.

I remember as a little boy in Dublin reciting this Psalm beside my mother in church, and thinking, at verse 10, that my parents would never forsake me - and they never did. Loving and loyal to the end. And God even more loving and loyal. Whoopee! Or Alleluia, if you prefer.

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