In a world fraught with intrigue and composed of opposing parties often fighting for dominance, today’s psalm comes as a refresher course in what God has in mind for us. The psalmist starts off by declaring, “The Lord rules!” (ceb) and then goes on to describe exactly what this rule looks like.

We often think that the Jewish people of the Hebrew scriptures believe that only they are God’s chosen people. The islands mentioned in the Common English Bible version of the text refer to other non-Jewish nations while the clouds and thick darkness surrounding God are reminiscent of the events surrounding the giving of the Law to Moses at Mount Sinai. The implication is clear: God is as much the God of other nations as the God of Israel.

The words righteousness and righteous occur four times in this psalm and reveal one of God’s attributes. The psalmist considers righteousness so powerful and so life-changing that the psalmist likens it to a fire melting mountains and a violent thunderstorm. The message once again is clear: God is king and God is in control. Nothing stands before God’s power.

When I was about seven or eight years old, our family went up Table Mountain in Cape Town by cable car. I wasn’t scared, and I remember some of the magnificent views the city and environs offered. Psalm 97 is like that; it offers us a word picture of what it means to be a child of God.

The closing lines emphasize the discerning marks of God’s redemptive promises in the life of those who belong to God, saying: “Light is planted like seed for the righteous person; joy too for those whose heart is right” (ceb).

Lord, we thank you for mountaintop experiences in our lives as we continue to follow you. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read John 17:20-26

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Lectionary Week
May 27—June 2, 2019
Scripture Overview

How did you first hear about the gospel? Was it from your family or a friend? Or was it from a completely unexpected source? This week’s readings remind us that God uses many different techniques of revelation. Paul and Silas are in prison in Philippi, and the guard of the prison has no idea that he is about to encounter the power of God and come to faith. The psalmist says that creation itself reveals God’s glory and power. In Revelation, Jesus speaks directly about his future return and reign, as attested by his messenger and by the Spirit. Jesus prays in John for his followers, because through their unity the gospel will be proclaimed to others. Although Jesus ascends to heaven, the revelation of his plan and purpose does not end.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Acts 16:16-34. Recall a difficult time in your life. Were you able to continue to praise God through this time?
Read Psalm 97. Write your own word picture of what it means to be a child of God, who is in control.
Read Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21. How has Jesus’ invitation to partake of the water of life changed you?
Read John 17:20-26. What signs of division do you see in your community? How can you work toward the oneness to which God calls us?

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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