The Psalms—a collection of prayers and hymns from throughout Israel’s history—offer a variety of emotions, from sorrow to joy, despair to gratitude. Many of us turn to this book of the Bible when we need consolation or want to express our appreciation. This psalm is devoted to praise and thanksgiving. The psalmist celebrates the steadfastness of God’s love. Using a call-and-response format, the psalmist invites others to join him in giving thanks.
To be steadfast means to be firm in belief or in place. A tall order, to be sure, but certainly one that describes the relationship God offers us. God will always be; God will not desert us or fall short.
How have you experienced God’s steadfastness?
Before I go to bed on Saturday nights, I write a gratitude list for the preceding week. From family dinners to finished manuscripts, lunch with a friend to a walk around the lake, I note the sacred—in whatever form I encountered it—that graced my days. It’s an evocative reminder of how God is revealed to me, over and over again, on a regular basis. And it’s a nice lead-in to my attending worship on Sunday mornings.
Another practice I’ve adopted is to stop when I see something that brings the awesomeness of God to my attention. When I pause for a purple sunset in the mountains of western North Carolina or a middle-aged woman helping her elderly mother at the grocery store, I take a deep breath and say, “Thank you, gracious God, for this.” Maybe I utter it out loud, or maybe I meditate on the words silently. Either way, it just takes a few seconds, and it grounds me in gratitude.
How might you respond to God’s steadfastness today?
Gracious Lord, thank you for staying the course with me. Knowing you’ll always be there, no matter what, is a great comfort. Amen.
The Liturgy of the Palms readings prepare us for Palm Sunday, when Jesus enters the city of Jerusalem in triumph. The psalmist celebrates the one who comes in the name of the Lord, who is celebrated with palm branches. Matthew then tells the story of Jesus, who enters Jerusalem in this way and is greeted with joy, such that the crowds quote Psalm 118. The Liturgy of the Passion points to the end of that week and the coming suffering of Jesus. Isaiah and the psalmist describe being treated with contempt, beaten, and rejected. In reciting the earliest known Christian hymn, Paul in Philippians emphasizes how Christ surrenders his glory and is subjected to humiliation and death. Matthew recounts the passion of the Messiah, who is rejected as the prophets have foretold.
Read Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29. How has God been steadfast in your life? How do you praise God for this continual presence?
Read Matthew 21:1-11. How would you expect a ruler to enter a city? How is Jesus’ entrance the same? How is it different?
Read Isaiah 50:4-9a. What does being a servant of God look like? How does God help you live as a servant?
Read Philippians 2:5-11. Consider the author’s suggestion that Jesus manifests his divinity by being completely obedient to God. How does this change the way you think about the divine image within you?
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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