URC Daily Devotion 21st January

Psalm 31

In you I’ve taken refuge, LORD;
You are my shelter in distress.
O let me never be ashamed,
But save me in your righteousness.

LORD, turn your ear to hear my cry;
Come quickly to deliver me,
And be my rock and firm defence,
My stronghold and security.

You are my fortress and my rock;
For your name’s sake be my sure guide.
Preserve me from the trap that’s set;
You are the refuge where I hide.

Redeem me, LORD, O God of truth;
My spirit I commit to you.
I hate all those who trust false gods;
I trust the LORD, for he is true.

I will rejoice and take delight
In all the love that you have shown,
For my affliction you have seen;
To you my soul’s distress is known.

You have not left me to my foe
Or given me into his hand;
But you have set my feet within
A spacious place where I may stand.

Be merciful to me, O LORD,
For my distress knows no relief;
My eyes grow weak with sorrow’s tears,
My soul and body with my grief.

My life in anguish is consumed;
My years pass by with many groans.
Through misery my strength has failed,
And greatly weakened are my bones.

Because of all my enemies
My neighbours treat me scornfully;
I’m viewed with dread by all my friends—
They see me coming and they flee.

I am forgotten as though dead,
Not even spared a passing thought;
I’m like a jar that’s cast away,
A useless, broken, shattered pot.

I hear the slander many spread,
And terror stalks me all the way.
Against me enemies conspire;
They plot to take my life away.

But as for me, I trust you, LORD;
I say, “You are my God alone.”
My times are ever in your hands;
Save me from foes who hunt me down.

Upon your servant shine your face;
Save me in your unfailing love.
LORD, let me not be put to shame,
For I have cried to God above.

But let the wicked suffer shame
And silent in the grave abide.
Suppress the lying lips which speak
Against the just with haughty pride.

Your goodness, LORD, is very great—
Prepared for those who fear your name.
You show your goodness openly
To all who your protection claim.

Your presence hides and shelters them
From those who plot to take their life,
And in your tent you keep them safe
From evil tongues that stir up strife.

The LORD be praised because he showed
The wonder of his love to me,
When in a city I was trapped,
Surrounded by the enemy.

In my alarm I rashly said
That I was hidden from your eyes;
But when I called to you for help,
In grace you listened to my cries.

O love the LORD, all you his saints!
The faithful will be kept by God,
But he will give the proud their due.
Be strong, take heart; hope in the LORD.

You can hear a Free Church of Scotland congregation sing this to the tune Herongate here.

Reflection

A recurring theme of the Old Testament prophets is the idea that in God alone should His people put their trust.  The people, however, seemed to prefer to put their trust in foreign policy, alliances with other countries, and kings.  Time and time again the prophets warned the people this was folly but even after the disaster of the Assyrian invasion of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the people didn’t listen.

The opening stanzas of today’s Psalm resonate with this theme of putting our trust in God.  For the Psalmist has taken refuge in the Lord who is a shelter in times of distress.  God is a rock, firm defence and security.  

Despite the American motto “In God we trust” printed on every banknote, any government that decided to put their trust in the Lord and not in the force of arms or foreign policy would be laughed out of office.  Yet the Brexit negotiations our government have entered into haven’t (at the time of writing in December 2017) seemed to result in much of benefit for either ourselves or our European partners.  Parties, and movements within them, which advocate abandoning our nuclear arsenal are seen as dangerous and extreme and we tend to see trusting in God as a personal not a political thing.

What, I wonder would trusting in God mean for our nations if our leaders took the injunction seriously?  Would it mean we give more of our nation’s wealth away – just as individuals we’re called to give a proportion of our own wealth away to stop ourselves being poisoned by the toxicity of money.  Would it mean we treat refugees and asylum seekers with dignity remembering that the Holy Family fled to Egypt for safety?  Would it mean we, like Costa Rica, abandon our armed services and plough the money saved into health and education?  What would putting our trust in the Lord mean for our nation, our church and us as individuals?

 

Prayer

In you, O Lord,
I put my trust.
In you, O Lord,
I take refuge.
In you, O Lord,
I find my security.
Help me, O Lord,
to trust you more.
Amen.

Today’s Writer

The Rev’d Andy Braunston is minister of Barrhead, Shawlands and Stewarton URCs in the Synod of Scotland’s Southside Cluster.

Bible Version

 

New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised Bible: © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved

Copyright © 2018 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.