By Elizabeth Baumann
A Reading from Psalm 89
1 Your love, O LORD, for ever will I sing;
from age to age my mouth will proclaim your faithfulness.
2 For I am persuaded that your love is established for ever;
you have set your faithfulness firmly in the heavens.
3 “I have made a covenant with my chosen one;
I have sworn an oath to David my servant:
4 ‘I will establish your line for ever,
and preserve your throne for all generations.’”
5 The heavens bear witness to your wonders, O LORD,
and to your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones;
6 For who in the skies can be compared to the LORD?
who is like the LORD among the gods?
7 God is much to be feared in the council of the holy ones,
great and terrible to all those round about him.
8 Who is like you, LORD God of hosts?
O mighty LORD, your faithfulness is all around you.
9 You rule the raging of the sea
and still the surging of its waves.
10 You have crushed Rahab of the deep with a deadly wound;
you have scattered your enemies with your mighty arm.
11 Yours are the heavens; the earth also is yours;
you laid the foundations of the world and all that is in it.
12 You have made the north and the south;
Tabor and Hermon rejoice in your Name.
13 You have a mighty arm;
strong is your hand and high is your right hand.
14 Righteousness and justice are the foundations of your throne;
love and truth go before your face.
15 Happy are the people who know the festal shout!
they walk, O LORD, in the light of your presence.
16 They rejoice daily in your Name;
they are jubilant in your righteousness.
17 For you are the glory of their strength,
and by your favor our might is exalted.
18 Truly, the LORD is our ruler;
The Holy One of Israel is our King.
19 You spoke once in vision and said to your faithful people:
“I have set the crown upon a warrior
and have exalted one chosen out of the people.
20 I have found David my servant;
with my holy oil have I anointed him.
21 My hand will hold him fast
and my arm will make him strong.
22 No enemy shall deceive him,
nor any wicked man bring him down.
23 I will crush his foes before him
and strike down those who hate him.
24 My faithfulness and love shall be with him,
and he shall be victorious through my Name.
25 I shall make his dominion extend
from the Great Sea to the River.
26 He will say to me, ‘You are my Father,
my God, and the rock of my salvation.’
27 I will make him my firstborn
and higher than the kings of the earth.
28 I will keep my love for him for ever,
and my covenant will stand firm for him.
29 I will establish his line for ever
and his throne as the days of heaven.”
30 “If his children forsake my law
and do not walk according to my judgments;
31 If they break my statutes
and do not keep my commandments;
32 I will punish their transgressions with a rod
and their iniquities with the lash;
33 But I will not take my love from him,
nor let my faithfulness prove false.
34 I will not break my covenant,
nor change what has gone out of my lips.
35 Once for all I have sworn by my holiness:
‘I will not lie to David.
36 His line shall endure for ever
and his throne as the sun before me;
37 It shall stand fast for evermore like the moon,
the abiding witness in the sky.’”
38 But you have cast off and rejected your anointed;
you have become enraged at him.
39 You have broken your covenant with your servant,
defiled his crown, and hurled it to the ground.
40 You have breached all his walls
and laid his strongholds in ruins.
41 All who pass by despoil him;
he has become the scorn of his neighbors.
42 You have exalted the right hand of his foes
and made all his enemies rejoice.
43 You have turned back the edge of his sword
and have not sustained him in battle.
44 You have put an end to his splendor
and cast his throne to the ground.
45 You have cut short the days of his youth
and have covered him with shame.
46 How long will you hide yourself, O LORD?
will you hide yourself for ever?
how long will your anger burn like fire?
47 Remember, LORD, how short life is,
how frail you have made all flesh.
48 Who can live and not see death?
who can save himself from the power of the grave?
49 Where, Lord, are your loving-kindnesses of old,
which you promised David in your faithfulness?
50 Remember, Lord, how your servant is mocked,
how I carry in my bosom the taunts of many peoples,
51 The taunts your enemies have hurled, O LORD,
which they hurled at the heels of your anointed.
52 Blessed be the LORD for evermore!
Amen, I say, Amen.
In many ways this psalm is an archetypal psalm, both in that it exemplifies many of the themes we read throughout the Psalms, and also in that it gives us a pattern that is familiar to the life of faith.
We all, like David, fell in love with God because he loved us first. He makes these extravagant claims and promises about being with us and saving us and how we are special to and Beloved to him. But then — sooner or later — it all seems to collapse. The lights go out. God doesn’t feel near. We can’t understand why he’s allowed the circumstances we find ourselves in. With David, we say, “How long, O Lord?” and “Remember!” Has God forgotten? Isaiah 49 will assure us that God cannot forget; but our feelings and perceptions insist otherwise.
It’s in that conflict — the one between our perceived reality and divine revelation — that the choice presents itself: will you cling to Jesus anyway? Believe him anyway? Like the psalmist, be honest about all your feelings in prayer and still choose to say, “Blessed be the Lord for evermore! Amen, I say, Amen,” even when nothing is resolved, and God gives no clear answers.
Elizabeth Baumann is a seminary graduate, a priest’s wife, and the mother of two small daughters. A transplant from the West Coast, she now lives in “the middle of nowhere” in the Midwest with too many cats.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
The Diocese of Niassa – The Anglican Church of Southern Africa
The Diocese of Upper South Carolina