By Emily Hylden
A Reading from Psalm 34
1 I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall ever be in my mouth.
2 I will glory in the LORD;
let the humble hear and rejoice.
3 Proclaim with me the greatness of the LORD;
let us exalt his Name together.
4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me out of all my terror.
5 Look upon him and be radiant,
and let not your faces be ashamed.
6 I called in my affliction and the LORD heard me
and saved me from all my troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encompasses those who fear him,
and he will deliver them.
8 Taste and see that the LORD is good;
happy are they who trust in him!
9 Fear the LORD, you that are his saints,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger,
but those who seek the LORD lack nothing that is good.
11 Come, children, and listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 Who among you loves life
and desires long life to enjoy prosperity?
13 Keep your tongue from evil-speaking
and your lips from lying words.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous,
and his ears are open to their cry.
16 The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to root out the remembrance of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry, and the LORD hears them
and delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and will save those whose spirits are crushed.
19 Many are the troubles of the righteous,
but the LORD will deliver him out of them all.
20 He will keep safe all his bones;
not one of them shall be broken.
21 Evil shall slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
22 The LORD ransoms the life of his servants,
and none will be punished who trust in him.
There’s a temptation to use a line of reasoning that if a person behaves faithfully, their “path will be straight.” Indeed, Psalm 119 often prays for a straight path as one abides by God’s precepts. But Psalm 34 speaks the truth that our deeds or behavior do not promise a particular outcome here and now. “Many are the troubles of the righteous” — a sobering sentiment, but one affirmed by example and echoed throughout the Old Testament, gospels, and epistles. The lives of the patriarchs are littered with tragedy, the disciples are often told that they must choose between service to God and comfort, and the letters to the early churches show again and again the ways that faithfulness means ostracization.
Happy Sunday, indeed.
Here’s the good news, friends: “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted.” The God known in Jesus Christ never promises the erasure of suffering here and now, but in the cross, we learn the depth of God’s promise that we will never be alone or abandoned to darkness and evil. We will only ever always be companioned and comforted by our gracious Creator and heavenly Father.
The Rev. Emily R. Hylden resides with her priest husband and three sons in Lafayette, Louisiana. Find her podcasting at Emily Rose Meditations.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Church of the Province of West Africa
Church of the Redeemer, Sarasota, Fla.