Psalm 63 takes a surprising turn in verse 6. Verse 5 begins, “My soul is satisfied . . . my mouth praises”—but when? “When I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night.” If the word insomnia makes you shudder, if you battle depression or worry, if a rough patch in life keeps you awake, you know the darkness can be terrifying, the soft bed no comfort at all.
We each have our ways of ensuring sleep: pills or alcohol or the proverbial counting of sheep. What if we learned a new habit of counting? Alone in the dark, try to replace the obsessiveness of anxiety, guilt, loneliness, or plotting what to try next with a focus on God—God’s beauty and wisdom, God’s care and compassion, the stories of Jesus. Count! Not sheep, but instances of God’s goodness from the past day or your whole life you can recall.
God is counting too. How many times have you rolled over since 3:00 a.m.? God knows. God loves. God cares. God is there in the dark; it was in the dark that God created light. Jesus was born on one of the longest nights; you came to be in the darkness of your mother’s womb.
Psalm 63, after the idea of meditating on God in bed, adds “in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.” Can we envision the dark shadows not as peril but as the protective shadow of God’s presence?
Lord, as I fall asleep tonight, I will look for your shadow in the dark; if I waken prematurely, I will ponder your loving heart. Amen.
In the midst of Lent, when many might be giving up a certain food that they love, we read about feasting. The focus is not on physical feasting, but on feasting as a metaphor for communing with God. Isaiah describes food and drink that one cannot buy with money, for it comes freely from the Lord. The psalmist describes the state of his soul as being hungry and thirsty. Only meditating on God’s faithfulness nourishes his soul at the deepest level. Physical food is momentary, but spiritual nourishment endures. In First Corinthians, Paul appeals to this imagery. Although the ancients experience this spiritual nourishment, some pursue physical pleasure and stray into idolatry and immorality. Partaking in this nourishment should cause us in turn to produce spiritual fruit, as Jesus admonishes his listeners.
Read Isaiah 55:1-9. When has God’s grace inverted your expectations?
Read Psalm 63:1-8. As you mature in faith, what new questions about God do you ask?
Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. Think of a time you have faced great temptation. How did God help you endure it?
Read Luke 13:1-9. For what do you need to repent?
Respond by posting a prayer.
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