Great Plains Daily Devotional for 12/5/2020

Today please be in prayer for

Justin Jamis
Kipling UMC, Kipling, NC, North Carolina Conference
Wichita East District
Daniel Kim
Lubbock Korean, NW TX Conference
Wichita East District
Ryan Lynch
Andover UMC
Wichita East District
Stephanie Brown
Arkansas City First UMC
Wichita East District

Today's Lectionary Text

Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19

Give the king your justice, O God,
    and your righteousness to a king’s son.
May he judge your people with righteousness,
    and your poor with justice.
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
    and the hills, in righteousness.
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
    give deliverance to the needy,
    and crush the oppressor.

May he live while the sun endures,
    and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
    like showers that water the earth.
In his days may righteousness flourish
    and peace abound, until the moon is no more.

Today's Devotional

Today’s passage is categorized as an “enthronement Psalm,” a Psalm that generally recognizes and extols the reign of God over and through creation. This particular Psalm is suggested to reflect prayers for a particular king at a particular time, possibly Solomon asking for God’s blessing over his own monarchy. He asks for wisdom and promises to judge with righteousness and justice.

This Psalm is also used in Christian doctrine to describe Christ’s reign foretold. In fact, we see this passage referred to again in the lectionary at Epiphany, when we celebrate Jesus divinity. And we certainly understand Jesus as a leader who will “defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.” God’s preferential treatment of the poor, as manifested in Jesus’ teaching and ministry, is reflected in this Psalm.

Both of these aspects of the Psalm are helpful for purposes of understanding our history and doctrine. Yet I am pondering its practical meaning, if any, for us today. I don’t live in a country with a king. I can and do pray for my elected leaders at every level to reflect these values. This Psalm seems to make clear that, from a Biblical standpoint, “Righteousness” and “Justice” cannot be consistent with systematic exploitation and/or oppression of the poor and needy. I hope and pray for our elected officials at every level to lead with the righteousness and justice described in this Psalm.

But I wonder if this Psalm can be appropriated even more personally. What if it is not just about civic or religious leaders? What if it is about me? I’m not a king. I don’t have the power to judge people like a king or to enact or enforce laws, like an elected official today. So it can be tempting to pray for leaders (civic or religious) to solve the problems of the poor and needy. But my actions (and inactions) affect others every day. If I actively work to see and understand the poor and needy in my community and around the world, then I can take whatever steps that are within my power to defend them. If we believe that we all are the hands and feet of Jesus in the world today, what are we doing with those hands and feet?

So maybe this Psalm can be a prayer of enthronement for you (and me) today. “May I judge your people with righteousness and your poor with justice.” “May I defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.” And with such a prayer we can hope that “in our days may righteousness flourish and peace abound.”
 
--Randall Hodgkinson, Topeka First UMC
Associate Conference Lay Leader
randall.hodgkinson@yahoo.com

Prayer for Reflection

Loving God, help me to really see and understand your people and act in ways that foster your righteousness and justice. Help me to defend the cause of the poor, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor. Empower and motivate me to act, on your behalf and in furtherance of your reign on Earth today. Amen.
 

 

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