The Psalms offer us a model for honest prayer that addresses every part of our lives. Whether we are rejoicing in God’s goodness or struggling through fear and brokenness, these ancient songs offer words to name our present state. I was blessed to spend six years in an Episcopal Benedictine Monastery where the Psalms were recited or sung morning, noon, and night. I came to love them and to find myself identifying with the celebrations and the struggles, the teaching and songs of praise, the doubts and hopes that gave voice to ancient Israel.
Psalm 107 is a song of “Thanksgiving for Deliverance from Many Troubles” according to the title in the New Revised Standard Version. For many years people have come from every direction seeking safety and a community. They have known hardship, hunger, thirst, and lostness as they have wandered through desert places and have cried out to God. Now it is time to return thanks to God for the steadfast love that has never left them. God leads them on a “straight way” that brings them to an inhabited town.
This psalm reflects the experience of struggle considered in yesterday’s scripture reading. It reminds me of some rough patches in my own journey of faith. Taking time to reflect and to write a daily journal entry clarifies where I am and how I choose to act. It also challenges me to think again and to celebrate all the moments of deliverance from fear, loneliness, and anxiety. I thank God for leading me to the USA where many struggles awaited me along with great joy and blessing. I give thanks to God who is good and whose steadfast love endures forever. And I need to be reminded to do this often.
Recall specific times when you became aware of God setting you free from difficulty and suffering. Try composing a list of those times using the opening verse of the psalm as a prayer of gratitude.
The book of Joshua tells the story of the return of the Israelites to the land promised to Abraham. They have escaped captivity in Egypt by a miraculous crossing, and now they enter the land in a similar way. Psalm 107 speaks of God gathering the people from distant lands and bringing them out of the desert into a land of plenty. It is a poetic reflection on the experience of the Israelites. Paul often experiences resistance from various sources. In a defense of his integrity, he points to his actions as proof of his virtue. Jesus reminds us that we can do the right thing for the wrong reasons. If we act in order to draw attention to ourselves, then even good deeds lose their luster in God’s eyes.
Read Joshua 3:7-17. When have you had to trust leaders for the good of your community?
Read Psalm 107:1-7, 33-37. Recall difficult times in your faith journey. How did you experience God’s steadfast love through these times?
Read 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13. What daily practices give you insight into God’s Word? How do you encourage others in their life of faith?
Read Matthew 23:1-12. Do your leaders live what they preach? If you are a leader, how do you strive to live the gospel?
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