March 11, 2009



By Paul Keim, professor of Bible and religion
SCRIPTURE: Psalm 19 (NRSV) Scroll down for complete Scripture.

DEVOTIONAL: In this Lenten season the economy dominates the headlines. People are losing jobs and houses and investments. Politicians and experts suggest various solutions, take decisive action. But no end is in sight. Companies that seemed impregnable a short while ago have suddenly collapsed like a house of cards. Where there was faith in the wisdom of markets to ensure our prosperity and secure our posterity, there is now fear and distrust.

The Psalmist speaks to the angst of our burst bubble with words of reassurance. Not with the false hope that happy days will soon be here again. Rather with the testimony that our lives have always been in God’s hands. Nature itself declares and speaks and proclaims this oft unheeded message to the ends of the earth. The exuberance of the rising sun is a daily witness: Our lives are in God’s hands.

This reference also bears a faint echo of the ancient belief in the sun as a divine symbol of justice: “nothing is hid from its heat.” For the Psalmist, the text of the created world is in harmony with the creating word. The attributes of divine instruction (Torah!) reinforce the message. Torah is perfect, sure, right, clear, pure and true. It is more desirable than market gold; sweeter than the sweetest deal. The benefits of its instruction will not appear in your bank account, but in the depth of this confession: Our lives are in God’s hands.

The metaphors of rock and redeemer with which the Psalmist concludes reverberate with the very things we long for. As we prepare to reenact the coming of the incarnate Word into the world, with the rising of the sun, with the attributes of Torah, we lean away from the despair proclaimed in the headlines, towards the security of the Rock and the hands of the Redeemer.



To the leader. A Psalm of David.
The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

In the heavens he has set a tent for the sun,
which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy.
Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hidden from its heat.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring for ever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb.

Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from the insolent; do not let them have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.



Comments (7)

  1. Paul has struck the right note, in a time when the faint-hearted
    – and even some true believers – feel overwhelmed. J. B. Shenk

    J. B. Shenk March 11, 2009 |
  2. “Our lives are in God’s hands.” For many years an easy thing to say, when I knew where I stood on the playing field. The ground under me is now shaking and rumbling and my gut tells me that perhaps this phrase is about to collide with the core of my being.

    Emily Jantzi March 11, 2009 |
  3. I like the verse which says “Clear me from hidden faults.
    Keep back your servant also from the insolent; do not let them have dominion over me.” Because sometimes I cannot see myself in the mirror to spot my own faults and most of the time I confuse the insolent as strong and as a leader but they are not, they are proud and arrogant!

    Nora March 11, 2009 |
  4. Paul, your Mama & your Papa must be pleased when they read what you have shared with us.

    Mary K. Mishler March 11, 2009 |
  5. I felt today’s meditation was right on–a very timely
    message and so well put. In times like this, we need
    an anchor, and what better anchor is there than God

    Thank you, Mr. Keim.

    Loretta Yoder Ostojic March 11, 2009 |
  6. Almost everyday, every step I take is to songs of faith. I had been wondering recently why this is. And tonight, after a long hard day at work with almost constant tension with a co-worker, I get a request from a friend tobe the worship leader for an upcoming retreat. God’s songs our in my heart and head. I am grateful for them and for the opportunity to share them with others. May I draw on these sources of spiritual strength in my daily interactions. May this be so for whoever reads this as well. The Lord be praised.

    Gary Coppedge March 11, 2009 |
  7. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for this message blending true reality with hope. Carole

    Carole Albores March 11, 2009 |