Poetry was my first introduction to creative writing. A staple assignment of the first few days of most years of elementary school included writing an acrostic poem using our first names—each letter of the name starts the first word of each line, and each line is a self-description. Acrostic poems became a way I wrote about my children when their elementary school teachers asked me to describe them. Brave for Bethany. Caring for Corban. Energetic for Elias. Each letter revealed a little more of what I saw in each child and what I hoped their teachers would discover.
The psalmists used Hebrew acrostics to draw listeners and readers into a pattern and rhythm as each pair of lines invites us to consider what faithfulness and faith look like. The acrostic nature of the poem gets lost in translation, so imagine that the lines build on each other, taking us deeper into our own heart and into God’s impact on our lives.
This poem of Psalm 37 starts with a reality check: We aren’t bothered by evil itself. Rather, we are actually jealous of what people manage to get away with. The psalmist reveals more and more the contrast between how we actually exist in the world and God’s alternative ways of being. We are being invited line by line into a deeper understanding of God.
Choose a word you might use to meditate on God’s character. Use that word to build an acrostic poem of your own. Reflect first on where you are spiritually, and then move toward naming God’s character and how you could live your life differently.
Joseph had experienced betrayal by his brothers and then had been sold into slavery. At the time, he no doubt felt abandoned by God. However, after God raises up Joseph in Egypt, Joseph is able to provide for his family in a time of drought. Although others have acted with evil intentions, God uses those actions for good. The psalmist offers a similar encouragement. We struggle in the real challenges that face us, but we believe in a God who can carry us through them. In First Corinthians, Paul explains that God carries us even through death to resurrection glory on the other side. Jesus teaches us to respond to evil with mercy. Because we believe in a God who will ultimately bring justice, we do not need to serve as judge and executioner.
Read Genesis 45:3-11, 15. How would considering your children’s children to seven generations change the way you make decisions?
Read Psalm 37:1-11, 39-40. What is your relationship to the land where you live now and the land where you lived as you grew up?
Read 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, 42-50. How do you live out the characteristics of God’s imperishable realm?
Read Luke 6:27-38. How do you respond to Jesus’ call to love your enemies? How does your community of faith follow this gospel requirement?
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