URC Daily Devotion 8th October 2023

Sunday, 8 October 2023
Psalm 5
To my words give ear, O Lord,
give heed to my groaning.
Attend to the sound of my cries,
my King and my God.

It is you whom I invoke, O Lord.
In the morning you hear me;
in the morning I offer you my prayer,
watching and waiting.

You are no God who loves evil;
no sinner is your guest.
The boastful shall not stand their ground
before your face.

You hate all who do evil;
you destroy all who lie.
Deceitful and bloodthirsty people
are hateful to you, Lord.

But I through the greatness of your love
have access to your house.
I bow down before your holy temple,
filled with awe.

Lead me, Lord, in your justice,
because of those who lie in wait;
make clear your way before me.

No truth can be found in their mouths,
their heart is all mischief,
their throat a wide-open grave,
all honey their speech.

Declare them guilty, O God.
Let them fail in their designs.
Drive them out for their many offenses,
for they have defied you.

All those you protect shall be glad
and ring out their joy.
You shelter them; in you they rejoice,
those who love your name.

It is you who bless the upright
you surround them with favour as with a shield.

The Psalms: An Inclusive Language Version based on the Grail translation from the Hebrew
© 1963, 1986 The Grail (England) GIA Publications


I think, if I’m honest, that I recognise this kind of prayer. I have prayed prayers like it, if not with explicit words, then with the bit of my unconscious self that sometimes makes itself known. The commentaries think this psalm is ambiguous – that we don’t know who is praying or what for exactly. But, however ambiguous or unknown the author, context or intention, I recognise this prayer. It’s the kind where we try to put ourselves on the right side with God. We tug at God’s sleeves and say something like ‘Listen to me… I pray every morning, like you say we should.’ And we plead with God to listen to us. We want to make sure God knows that we are on the side of goodness, unlike whoever it is who has awoken our fears or envy or anger. We remind God of the evil that God hates and of the people who do what God hates, and we repeat the assurance we want, that it is we (not them) who will receive God’s loving protection. As I read this psalm, I notice how it works its way inside me, and how familiar it feels. If I am loved, then there must be those who are not loved. If I am right then there must be those who are wrong. If I am hurting, or if someone is hurting me, then it must be that God will come and protect me, not them. How revealing the Bible is, how aware of the fragility of human souls like mine, and maybe yours. 

But, reading the psalm, and resisting its voice, I find that I do not need God to hate anyone so that I can be assured, by contrast, that I am loved. I only need to know that I am beloved and that God listens, without needing me to grab attention or favour. God’s regard is simply granted, freely. I can relax into God’s love. That’s all I, or anyone, need. 


thank you, 
for being there, 
even before I call upon you
in the morning.
Thank you for loving me,
before I do anything, 
wherever I am
and whatever is going on.
Thank you for blessing me,
before I’ve woken up,
with no good deeds yet done
and nothing to win your favour. 
Thank you, for such love.
Give me grace to receive it
and then to share it.  Amen



Today’s writer

The Rev’d Dr Susan Durber, World Council of Churches  President from Europe, the Landsker Pastorate in Pembrokeshire


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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