Monday, March 25

Who?

O Lord, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill?
Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right, and speak the truth from their heart;
who do not slander with their tongue, and do no evil to their friends, nor take up a reproach against their neighbors;
in whose eyes the wicked are despised, but who honor those who fear the Lord; who stand by their oath even to their hurt;
who do not lend money at interest, and do not take a bribe against the innocent. Those who do these things shall never be moved.
Psalm 15 

Where is God's holy hill? At the time this was written, it was Mount Zion in Jerusalem. For that was where God's dwelling on earth was. In the Christian era, Zion refers not to a place, but to a people. For all the elect

Sunday, March 24

A Hidden Seed

Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God.
They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse; there is no one who does good, no, not one.
Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread, and do not call upon the Lord?
There they shall be in great terror, for God is with the company of the righteous.
You would confound the plans of the poor, but the Lord is their refuge.
O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion! When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.
 
Psalm 14 

I'm inclined to think of an atheist as a person who brazenly states that they don't believe in God. But I think the kind of atheist the psalms talk about—especially Psalm 14—is the person who, despite the faith they claim to have, truly lives their life as though there is no God to be accountable to. Those who say they're non-believers may yet live ethical lives, and even work for peace and justice in the world. I can respect such people, as long as they don't persecute people of faith. But what of the person who says they're a believer and yet amasses great wealth and stockpiles of weapons, who promotes inequality and warfare, and who says vile things about

Saturday, March 23

Mustache and Walking Stick

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God! Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death, and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”; my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.
But I trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
 
Psalm 13 

As is so often the case in the scripture, the 13th Psalm is an example of one of the faithful looking ahead confidently to deliverance even while in the midst of pain. Doubt is natural, and it's hard to avoid it. But I don't need to nurse it.

A literary hero of mine, the Rev. John Ames, the narrator of Marilynne Robinson's Gilead, put it best when he

Friday, March 22

Things Look Bad

“Because the poor are despoiled, because the needy groan, I will now rise up,” says the Lord; “I will place them in the safety for which they long.”
The promises of the Lord are promises that are pure, silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.
You, O Lord, will protect us; you will guard us from this generation forever.
Ps. 12:5-7

I don't know much about refining silver, but I can't help but imagine that the "furnace on the ground" makes the silver extremely hot in order to burn away all the impurities. Maybe that's what's happening right now. Things look bad. The greedy are publicly groaning with pleasure as they despoil the poor and the sick and the downtrodden. But God's promises are no less pure than they were when the 12th Psalm was written. There is a refuge of safety for those who are now vulnerable. And because it is not gilded and garishly labeled with the

Thursday, March 21

My Foundation is God

In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to me, “Flee like a bird to the mountains; for look, the wicked bend the bow, they have fitted their arrow to the string, to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart.
If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven. His eyes behold, his gaze examines humankind.
The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked, and his soul hates the lover of violence.
On the wicked he will rain coals of fire and sulfur; a scorching wind shall be

Wednesday, March 20

God's Answer

But you do see! Indeed you note trouble and grief, that you may take it into your hands; the helpless commit themselves to you; you have been the helper of the orphan.
Break the arm of the wicked and evildoers; seek out their wickedness until you find none.
The Lord is king forever and ever; the nations shall perish from his land.
O Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek; you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear
to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed, so that those from earth may strike terror no more.
 
Psalm 10:14-18 

The Law of God repeatedly protects the poor. The prophets condemn those who transgress that Law. The apostles command that the poor be ministered to. And Christ himself lives a life of poverty, calling others to become poor for the sake of his gospel. But nowhere is God's love for the least among us more evident than in

Tuesday, March 19

The Schemes They Have Devised

Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
In arrogance the wicked persecute the poor— let them be caught in the schemes they have devised.
For the wicked boast of the desires of their heart, those greedy for gain curse and renounce the Lord.
In the pride of their countenance the wicked say, “God will not seek it out”; all their thoughts are, “There is no God.”
Their ways prosper at all times; your judgments are on high, out of theirsight; as for their foes, they scoff at them.
They think in their heart, “We shall not be moved; throughout all generations we shall not meet adversity.”
Their mouths are filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under their tongues are mischief and iniquity.
They sit in ambush in the villages; in hiding places they murder the innocent. Their eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
they lurk in secret like a lion in its covert; they lurk that they may seize the poor; they seize the poor and drag them off in their net.
They stoop, they crouch, and the helpless fall by their might.
They think in their heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”
Rise up, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; do not forget the oppressed.
Why do the wicked renounce God, and say in their hearts, “You will not call us to account”?
 
Psalm 10:1-13 

Thousands of years later and the wicked still arrogantly persecute the poor. Large corporations have packed all three branches of government with their own and those who will do their bidding. The laws and regulations