Sometimes a Psalm Surprises

Thursday, January 30

1-30By Karen Tousley Hutchinson of Loveland, Colorado, USA

O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. …When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? …and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

—Psalm 8:1, 3–9

My plan for the new year was to read and reflect on one of the psalms every day. At first I did this fairly regularly. But I soon found that some early psalms didn’t inspire me or help me with what I was looking for in the way of my re-emerging faith. I was struggling to stay with my plan. Phrases like blood and tears; the wicked sinners perishing, the conspiring nations, distracted me. I wasn’t sure of their purpose and didn’t understand their context.

I eagerly looked forward to reading the 23rd psalm. It was the one I was most familiar with—one that most closely meshed with my faith and ideas of ministry. So every morning I would read a psalm and reflect on it. I tried to find at least one gem in each psalm that would hold me over as I waited for number 23.

Suddenly, I came to the eighth psalm and found, not just a gem, but a treasure chest. I had heard it before but had forgotten it. The praise and awe of the passages jumped from the book and shook me. “O Lord, our God, how majestic is your name in all the earth…”

I suddenly remembered how much beauty I find wherever I am—whatever the psalm, whatever the day or place. God shares this wonder with us whenever we look for it, and I think God loves a good surprise!

Prayer for Peace
Thank you, God, for encouraging us to delve further into your word. Help us struggle through the difficult passages of life. Break upon us with surprising light when we sing and pray.

Spiritual Practice: Psalm Writing
The psalms are prayers of honesty and trust. The psalmist trusts God’s presence in times of fear and failure, joy and plenty, growth and change. Write a short psalm-prayer expressing to God the truth about your physical, emotional, and spiritual state. What are your deepest feelings, longings, and needs? What prayer of praise, intercession, or petition flows from you as you consider your life and the life of God’s world?

Peace Covenant
Today, God, I will not give up on learning when confronted with difficult ideas.

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2 Comments

  1. Donna McVey

     /  30 January 2014

    Wonderfully put Sister Karen!!!

  2. Marlene Krueger

     /  30 January 2014

    I would like to suggest you use Nan C Merrill’s “Praying the Psalms” for your text. It goes through each of the Psalms, but uses slightly different language. It’s more inclusive, more loving, more gentle in tone. I have had my copy for 11 years and it has been well used. Sometimes I like to go back to the old words, but not too often.

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