URC Daily Devotion 5 March 2023

Sunday 5 March 2023

Psalm 125

Those who place on God reliance
in despair shall not be moved.
As the mountains hug the valley,
so embraced are God’s beloved.

Everlasting is Mount Zion,
from creations’ dawn till night;
so eternal is God’s promise
to all those who live aright.

God’s good blessings shall be given
to all those who do God’s will.
Just rewards shall be their fortune;
God is with us, with us still.

Those who work against God’s healing
have their ill with ill re-paid.
All the faithful of the kingdom
find their full redemption made.

Michael Morgan, traditional Hebrew tune, 
© Faith Alive Christian Resources
CCLI licence number 1064776
You can hear the tune here https://hymnary.org/media/fetch/152427


There is a thread in the Bible, and in human thinking more widely, that says that the good will be rewarded and the wicked will be punished. This thinking underpins most soap opera plots – in the end (even if the end is a long time coming), the misdeeds of the protagonists are found out and there is a reckoning. There is something in us that wants to know that good will be rewarded and that ill (in the sense of bad) will be repaid with ill. Psalm 125 seems to be there too. God’s promise is eternal for those who live aright (in this version). All the faithful will find their full redemption. But the first verse of this metrical version recognises that this isn’t in fact our experience of how the world is. Those who place their reliance on God sometimes fall into despair, and need to be embraced by God and be comforted. ‘Just rewards’ are not always our fortune. If they were, we would not despair or need God’s comforting embrace. 

Perhaps there is another theme in the witness of the Bible, another way to understand how goodness and wickedness are (or aren’t) related to reward. Is there a message, embodied perhaps most perfectly in Jesus himself, that righteousness, goodness and loving justice are not always rewarded? But, even if they are not rewarded, they are worth living. No matter what happens to you it is always right to pursue goodness. Goodness, if you like, does not need a reward. That is why those who lean on God do not despair, because they know that however unbalanced and unfair the workings of the world are, God is with them. I’d like to think I could hold onto that wisdom, and welcome God’s embrace, as I seek to be and do what is good, for no reward but knowing that I do God’s will. 


Eternal God, 
as I pray today, 
embrace me with your love
and let me find in your arms,
whatever I need to face the day.
I relinquish the search for rewards
and welcome instead your unexpected blessings.
I ask forgiveness for all I have done amiss
and your mercy for my mistakes.
I offer to you my hope to do what is good
and my intentions to live a better life today.
Redeem me this day and every day,
from your grace and for your world. 




Today’s writer

The Rev’d Dr Susan Durber, World Council of Churches President from Europe and Moderator of the Faith and Order Commission of the WCC



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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