All eyes were focused on Washington, DC. Rick Warren prayed; Aretha Franklin sang; and Barack Obama was sworn in as the forty-fourth president of the United States—an exciting and historic day for America. All manner of opinions, hopes, and dreams swirled in the echoes of a campaign that had been touted as hope personified.
The occasion does not differ that much in ancient Israel as the country crowns a new king. The event brings pomp and circumstance, parades and dancing, as well as shouts of joy and dreams of another great king like David.
The king serves as God’s representative, bringing God’s justice and righteousness to the land. The people pray for justice, righteousness, and prosperity for the land. The justice they pray for will be realized when the poor and needy receive the care that meets God’s desired standards. It will be a world where everyone has enough and no one is overlooked. The righteousness that fulfills their prayers comes when the king ensures a life lived in accordance with God’s will.
The psalm moves from the health of the king to the health of the community. The king, embodying God’s attributes, delivers, has pity, saves, and redeems. Israel knows that leadership that honors justice and righteousness will please God and bring them peace and prosperity. The weak and needy, desperate for rescue, are seen as precious, and their ultimate king will never forget them.
Lord, may we pray for our leaders and, in so doing, become leaders ourselves. Amen.
Isaiah 60:1-6 recalls the coming of God into the world as a brilliant light. That light carries with it the power to transform Israel so that those outside Israel are drawn to her light. Ephesians 3:1-12 points out God’s mysterious inclusion of the Gentiles among God’s people. The gift of light carries with it the obligation to accept and proclaim the inclusion of all out- siders. The psalm and Gospel passages draw on imagery of the king and his enthronement. For the psalmist, the king’s power and longevity must serve the purpose of the people’s good. The magi in Matthew are drawn by the light that marks the infant king’s birth and thus begin the process of outsiders who see in the gospel the mystery of salvation.
• Read Psalm 72:1-7; 10-14. How should we pray for our world’s leaders? What is our responsibility in working for justice and righteousness in our world today?
• Read Isaiah 60:1-6. Where have you seen evidence of God’s presence? How has God used you as a light to dispel dark- ness?
• Read Matthew 2:1-12. How do you respond when people ask you spiritual questions? In what ways have you sought the Lord and been sensitive to God’s guidance?
• Read Ephesians 3:1-12. How has God blessed you beyond your perceived boundaries?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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