February 26, 2009

FEB. 26 – LEARNING TO WAIT, WAITING TO LEARN

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By Jim Brenneman, president
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 25:1-10 (NRSV) Scroll down for complete Scripture.

DEVOTIONAL: Lent is a season of waiting and preparation. For the Psalmist, waiting offers the opportunity to learn. Psalm 25 is an a-b-c-Psalm, an acrostic, meant to be used as a memory device for teaching and learning. Each verse begins with a new letter in the alphabet. In this case, the Psalmist surprisingly adds an additional letter “p” at the end of the alphabetized Psalm, so that the first, middle, and last verses of the Psalm spell the Hebrew word a-l-p, which translated means “to learn” or “to teach.” Throughout the Psalm, the poet repeatedly asks God to teach: teach God’s ways (4), teach the truth that leads to salvation (5), instruct those who sin to do what is good and upright (8) and teach those who humble themselves before God, the right way to live (9).

There’s an old French saying, “people count up the faults of those who keep them waiting.” Not so, for the Psalmist. Instead of pointing out God’s faults, waiting “all day long” becomes an opportunity to learn about God’s infinite mercy, God’s great faithfulness and steadfast love.

We all experience times of waiting in our lives reflected by the season of Lent. We wait night and day for love, for job satisfaction, for children, for peace, security, forgiveness, healing, hope and much, much more. We wait for Easter, for the resurrection. The Psalmist knows such longing and pleads our case: “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” But, the Psalmist also turns our waiting into a wonderful opportunity to learn from God our Master Teacher. In waiting, we learn of God’s faithfulness to us through difficult times and God’s steadfast love for us no matter what. Apparently, for the Psalmist, some things worth learning are worth waiting for.

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SCRIPTURE: Psalm 25:1-10 (NRSV)

Of David.
To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
do not let me be put to shame;
do not let my enemies exult over me.
Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all day long.

Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!

Good and upright is the Lord;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

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Comments (10)

  1. After Ash Wednesday’s focus on repentance, this reflection on teaching, learning and waiting is helpful. It lends a pathway to the six weeks of Lent. If we are to repent (turn), this psalm and today’s reflection offer gudiance on how to approach that turning. Thank you.

    Gerry February 26, 2009 |
  2. Thank You Dr. Brenneman! This is a good Psalm to remember to remember even in inclement weather. Keep writing!

    Mary K. Mishler February 26, 2009 |
  3. I really needed that today! More than you know.

    Sandy Amann February 26, 2009 |
  4. In our times of instant gratification – cell phones, fast foods, internet, etc – waiting is not something that comes easy to us. Perhaps we, in this time of instant everything, need to reflect on that psalm the most. Thank you for bringing that sense of waiting and longing to us early in Lent so we can reflect on it often.

    Romeyn February 26, 2009 |
  5. in a time where immediate gratification is the part of the Zeitgeist, I find the chronicles of Gods work stretching over generations, amazing. I need the reminder to beware of shortcuts that can have long lasting consequences. I am wondering if investing money rather than working for it might be one of these shortcuts.????

    Ann February 26, 2009 |
  6. Dear Jim,
    It ‘s so true what you (&David of course) have said. In my few decades in encountering Jesus, I am changed (i.e.have learnt) much more in the difficult waiting times than in the exciting, busy, serving times.
    My wife, my two daughters, & I have had a chronic illness for several years yet I’ve seen the other three become more compassionate, wise, self-giving through this trial -& I hope by the grace of God I have become more Jesus-like also. I know many of my thought patterns & prejudices have “received treatment”.

    Colin Figures February 26, 2009 |
  7. I really praise God and thank him for openning this psalms to you and me in this world we need to be patient. Sotimes we get problems and we end up going into otherthings which are not Godly forgetting God is there in every situation. We only need to pray to him and wait patiently with hope and faith. l like this resding God bless you so much.

    SUSAN BIRUNGI February 27, 2009 |
  8. THis was a very interesting Psalm to read on Ash Wed – I left very early yesterday and returned very late so I’m just now reading and praying (better late than never) I sat at a friends funeral at 2:00 yesterday in a packed church. THe peace and calm of her life followered her to the celebration of her life. The Celtic music was waiting music. ” You leasd humble people to do what is right and to stay on your path” verse 9 of the Psalm was the story of her life. AMEN

    Pam Harrison February 27, 2009 |
  9. At times, it may be difficult to wait and learn at the same time. Yet God, in His teachings, does lead us onto the paths of learning. I have learned to wait; and while doing so, have strengthen my Faith.

    Nadina Alvarenga February 27, 2009 |
  10. Thank you and the Holy Spirit who enabled you to decipher the teaching of Psalm 25. I would like to share this very important teaching with a friend but do not know how. Is it possible to add somewhere ‘share with a friend’ link to future devotional? Thanks and God bless you.

    Zachary Lomo April 4, 2009 |