Since this psalm is attributed to David, we may wonder if he composed these lines before he ruined his and others’ lives with adultery and murder. Or did this psalm come from his ongoing reflection about righteous living after his ruinous behavior and later repentance? Clearly David wants to transcend the foolhardiness of disregarding God’s presence.
After its terse beginning, the psalm reveals something else about both foolishness and evil: If you think there is no God—or that you are godlike—you eventually come to disregard others. You are beyond them, so they are beneath you. By comparison, they are now literally “low-lifers”—they don’t count. Worse yet, they can become fodder for your appetites, your whims, or your supposedly godly wishes. (The Contemporary English Version refers to the poor as the ones evil people “gobble down.”)
What makes this kind of self-idolatry really reckless? Disregarding the God who cares for the poor. Verse 7 makes a veiled reference to the Exile events as reminder and proof of God’s providence: “The Lord restores the fortunes of his people.” It seems like he’s directing worshipers: “When you’re indifferent about those who are poor, you’re showing disdain for the God who protects them.” And for a refrain, these words, “God does not take kindly to contempt for the poor.” (In Romans 3:10-12, Paul quotes these thoughts to remind early Christians of their need for divine grace.)
The measure of my personal foolishness? Any time I discount or neglect those who are poor, I will be singing only my own praises! Mea culpa. . . .

Caring God, don’t allow me the foolishness of ignoring the poor. Refresh me with your song. Amen.

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Read John 6:1-21

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Lectionary Week
July 23–29, 2018
Scripture Overview

The Bible is filled with the stories of imperfect people. David is a classic case. In Second Samuel he commits adultery, tries to cover it up, and then plots a murder. How can this be the same man who penned this week’s psalm, which decries the foolishness of people who act in a godless way? Like us, David was a fallen person who needed God’s extravagant mercy. In Ephesians we read of this same extravagance given through Christ, whose power can do what we cannot—namely redeem all of us who are also foolish and fallen. The Gospel author demonstrates the power of Jesus through what he describes as “signs,” which Jesus performed not primarily to amaze the onlookers but rather to point them to his identity as the Son of God.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read 2 Samuel 11:1-15. How often do you consider the ramifications of your decisions and actions on the wider body?
• Read Psalm 14. How frequently do you find yourself envisioning a life free of constraints? What does that life look like?
• Read Ephesians 3:14-21. How does “being rooted and grounded in love” manifest itself in your life?
• Read John 6:1-21. When have you tried to force God into a mold of your own making to serve your needs?

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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