Ponder, delight, remember, extol. The psalmist employs these four verbs (as translated in the New International Version) in today’s psalm. Do these encompass what it means to fear the Lord? To fear the Lord is to ponder and wonder about God’s presence in the world; to suspect that behind every blessing, every sunrise and budding flower, God works. To fear the Lord is to delight in every gift, however small or predictable, and not to take for granted our ordinary and daily gifts. To fear the Lord is to remember and call to mind God’s wonders—whether it be a story or a place in nature or a memory of feeling most alive. To fear the Lord is to extol, to celebrate all that is good. When we extol the Lord, remember God’s wonders, delight in the Lord, and ponder God’s power, we begin to find wisdom.
When searching for wisdom, it is counterintuitive to stop in the middle of the hunt and throw a party. But the psalmist reminds us that celebration and praise are essential to life. In order to continue growing, we remember and name what we have learned already. To find our way out of the dark, we give thanks for the light we have been given. To be wise, we embrace the vulnerability of joy. Grief expands the contented soul while joy enriches the soul that is in turmoil.
O God of magnificent works and tiny miracles, I pause and give thanks for the wisdom, the mercy, and the gifts you have already given. Your grace has carried me before, and your grace will carry me again. For the moment, that is all I need to know. When I look back, I remember that I did not blaze that trail alone. Though I cannot see more than a step ahead, I know you are clearing the way for me. Amen.
If you could ask God for one thing, what would it be? God offered this chance to Solomon, and the king asked for wisdom to rule God’s people well. God honored this request by giving Solomon many other gifts too, as long as the king followed God’s ways. (Later on, unfortunately, Solomon lost his way.) The psalmist tells us that wisdom begins with understanding who we are and who God is. Ephesians addresses practical implications of wise living: follow the will of the Lord, be filled with the Spirit, encourage one another, and be grateful to God. The Gospel passage continues Jesus’ metaphorical description of himself as the bread of heaven. Here Jesus anticipates the sacrament of Communion, in which we partake of his body and blood by faith.
• Read 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14. Why are you afraid to ask God to meet your needs or show you your call?
• Read Psalm 111. What actions dominate your quest for God? Do you remember to stop and delight in God’s love for you?
• Read Ephesians 5:15-20. How do you make the most of your time with God? How do you show others that you are filled with the Spirit?
• Read John 6:51-58. In Communion we recall Jesus’ offering of his body and blood. How has that concept been a stumbling block to you?
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