Daily Devotion 29th July 2018

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Psalm 57

1 Have mercy on me, Lord;
to you my soul holds fast.
Your cov’ring wings will shelter me
until the danger’s past.

2 I cry to God Most High,
to God who answers me,
For he fulfils his purposes
for me most perfectly.

3 He sends his help from heaven
and saves me from above,
Rebuking those who seek my life;
God sends his truth and love.

4 I live with savage beasts,
I dwell with lions strong—
With men who speak with piercing words;
a sharp sword is their tongue.

5 Above the highest heavens,
O God, exalted be!
And over all the earth below
display your majesty.

6 My soul was overwhelmed;
they spread a net for me.
But they themselves fell in the pit
which they dug secretly.

7 My heart is steadfast, Lord;
with music I will sing.
8 Awake, my soul! Wake, harp and lyre!
My song the dawn will bring.

9 Among the nations, Lord,
to you I will give praise.
Among the peoples of the earth
my songs of you I’ll raise.

10 Great is your steadfast love,
which reaches to the sky.
Your constant faithfulness, O Lord,
extends to heaven high.

11 Above the highest heavens,
O God, exalted be!
And over all the earth below
display your majesty.

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

You can hear another contemporary version of this Psalm to the tune How Deep the Father’s Love for us here – it’s rather impressive.

 

Reflection

Psalm 57 has Saul and David seriously at odds – ‘I live with savage beasts’. David escapes to a cave and we learn of what comes to his spiritual rescue: ‘with music I will sing.’ Having once calmed Saul by playing the lyre, in his own distress, David now makes melody. And his sense of God’s steadfast love is re-kindled: ‘my song the dawn will bring.’

Not all life’s difficulties are about failed relationships, but most of us pass through shadowlands and need ways to cope with them. Maybe music works for you. One of my own ‘go to’ pieces is the slow movement from Mahler’s Third Symphony. Its seering melody, occasional brass climaxes, and lingering spaciousness unfailingly restore me. As a Youtube commentator has it, ‘When I am dying, I would listen to this music.’

Other things can also take us back to God, like a gym workout, or a riverside ramble, even going to church. I used to visit a devout church member whose world was being re-shaped by advanced dementia; all she ever said was ‘no light’. It was harrowing. With David, she seemed to be trapped in a net, beyond communication. So we sang hymns she knew off by heart, like ‘How sweet the name of Jesus sounds.’ In her eyes, it was as if her steadfastness of old, for that moment renewed her grasp upon God’s steadfastness ‘my song the dawn will bring’. It was deeply touching.

Amidst life’s trials, let Psalm 57 take you to a cave not just to escape what’s wrong, but also in song or something else to encounter afresh the one whose constant faithfulness, so exquisitely shown in Christ, extends to heaven high.

 

Prayer

God,
whose love is
an enduring melody
of passion and peace,
whether our songs
be of candid lament or gentle gratitude,
may they nourish our faith
and exalt your name,
through Jesus Christ. Amen

Today’s Writer

The Revd Nigel Uden, a URC minister in Cambridge and Moderator of the General Assembly

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.

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