URC Daily Devotion Sunday 13th November 2022


Sunday 13 November 2022
Psalm 115


Not for ourselves, O LORD, not for ourselves,
would we claim glory, but for you alone,
for your great love and constant faithfulness,
the steadfast care that makes your presence known.

2 The worldly say of us: “Where is their God?”
they vainly look for what they idolize,
for flaunted wealth, for burnished images,
and trim all gods to their own shape and size.

3 But we will trust in God, our help and shield,
transcendent Life on whom all lives depend,
whose untold mercies give our spirits voice
to bless the LORD in songs that never end.

Carl P. Daw  © 1996 Hope Publishing Company

You can hear the tune suggested for this Psalm, Toulon, here https://hymnary.org/media/fetch/192536


In this paraphrase the claim is made that worldly people trim gods to their own shape and size.  But is imagining a god in one’s own image more universal than that?  For instance, does an over-emphasis on God as love betray an anxiety about our not wanting to be judged?  This over-emphasis is not surprising, given some of our experiences of being on the receiving end of people’s judgement and anger.  However, God is believed to judge differently: his righteousness is tempered by mercy, and his holiness is tempered by grace. Would we really prefer a God who never judges; or, when we or others are treated unjustly, do we want the help of God who judges justly and mercifully? 

In the original version of the Psalm an appeal is made three times: ‘Trust in the Lord!’ And three times the reason given for doing so is that God is our ‘help and shield’. The Psalmist’s reason for this repeated emphasis is to draw a sharp contrast. Idols are inert; God is active. Idols are of no help at all; whereas God helps, shields, and blesses those who trust him.  

The Psalmist makes a second claim: we become like our objects of worship. Idols made of silver and gold have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see; ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell; hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk. In a similar way, the worshippers of idols become silent, unseeing, deaf, desensitised, unfeeling, and unmoved. In our time, does over-exposure to reports of exploitation and crisis make us desensitised, unfeeling, and unmoved? By contrast, if the Lord God is our object of worship, God’s active help can move us. Unlike idolization that deadens and demotivates, God’s activity is discerned in those he enlivens and motivates. Today, let God’s active help and transcendent Life set your spirit in motion in praise and service.


Help, Lord!

Reports of bad news weigh me down.
I feel like curling up in a protective ball. 
Nothing I can do will change anything.
But wait: What are you trying to say? 
You are my help and shield!

I begin to uncurl and look around.
Perhaps, with your help and protection, I can do something.
By trusting in your constant faithfulness revealed in Jesus Christ, 
the impossible becomes possible. Amen


Today’s writer

The Rev’d Dr Julian Templeton, Minister, St John’s URC New Barnet


New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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