Today’s scripture provides a striking contrast in tone. We are lifted up with affirmative praise and reminded of the reward for those who seek God (vv. 9-12). Then just as quickly and abruptly the tone changes to an admonishing lament (vv. 12-17). When we contrast the hardened young man who would be king writing this psalm alongside the innocent shepherd boy with sling in hand, the polarity provides glimpses of the incongruence that underpins this week’s theme.
The psalmist speaks of the involvement of three parties: the enemy, the oppressed (of whom the psalmist is one), and God. The psalmist faces an adversary stronger than he can singlehandedly take care of, but God delivers him. He invokes the singing of praises to God. And just when we think all is well, the psalmist raises his voice to God again: “Be gracious to me, O Lord.” And he speaks again of his complaint: “See what I suffer from those who hate me.” For the psalmist, it is God who has the final word, God who holds sway over the nations and executes judgment and justice.
This psalm gives us pause when we consider our nation, or the world for that matter. In recent major election seasons, we have witnessed deep division in countries around the globe. We may wonder if we “have sunk in the pit” of our own making. Could it be that we do not stand on the side of the oppressed, the needy, the poor? And if that is the case, shall we raise our voices to God for help: “Rise up, O Lord!” God, “do not let mortals [the best of us or the worst of us] prevail.” Only the Lord remembers the needy and upholds the hope of the poor. The Lord is a “stronghold in times of trouble.”

Yahweh, when we are oppressed, be our stronghold. May we rejoice in your deliverance. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Mark 4:35-41

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Lectionary Week
June 18–24, 2018
Scripture Overview

As children of God, we will face opposition; but God will ultimately give us victory. The psalmist cries out to God asking for deliverance from oppression at the hands of his enemies and concludes the psalm with the assurance that God will do so. Tradition credits this psalm to David, who as a boy had risked his life against Goliath based on that same assurance. Goliath mocked the Israelites and their God, but God gave the victory. Paul recounts his sufferings for the gospel, yet he is not overcome or in despair, for he trusts in God. Jesus calms a storm and is disappointed that the disciples show so little faith. Why do they not believe in God’s deliverance? And what about us? Do we still believe in God’s deliverance?

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read 1 Samuel 17:1a, 4-11, 19-23, 32-49. How do you stay grounded in the knowledge that you are part of the people of God? How does that knowledge sustain you in trying times?
• Read Psalm 9:9-20. When have you been provoked to cry out, “Rise up, O Lord?” On whose behalf did you cry?
• Read 2 Corinthians 6:1-13. When have you allowed your discipleship to become lax? Can you sense Paul’s urgency in his appeal: “Now is the acceptable time” (emphasis added)?
• Read Mark 4:35-41. How do you find the quiet center when the storms of life rage around you?

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