Reflection 1st June
Scripture: Psalm 121
This week’s reflections will concentrate on the Psalms which more than anything reflect a longing intimacy to be with God and have been used down the centuries by many for comfort and encouragement. They are a hugely significant resource to use for contemplative prayer, being the backbone of the daily prayer of many gathered communities, offered in the morning, evening and at night.
We begin today with Psalm 121 which is a favourite of mine. It is one of the only Psalms I ever heard my father recite (who I never thought of as remotely religious), and one which I have had the privilege of reading at funerals. It starts with the longing question: “I lift my eyes to the hills, from where comes my help?” and speaks of the Lord, who loves us deeply.
At the heart of the Psalm is an intense and deeply personal yearning for intimacy between God and His people. It speaks of putting our trust in Him in times of trial, of trusting Him to guide us on our journey through life and death. Just as God promised Israel that He would take care of them, so He promises to take care of us.
One of the problems that plagued Israel throughout the Old Testament era was that they turned to the nations around them in times of trouble instead of turning to God. They relied on a pact with Egypt because they had chariots and horses. They turned to Syria because they seemed to be mighty at the time. They turned to Edom for help. Each time, God would warn them, rebuke them and often allow them to be defeated as punishment. Yet they persisted in the same sin – the lack of faith in God and relying on their own strength, care and protection.
The psalmist reminds us that God is all we need in this world. We don’t need to rely on material wealth, human wisdom, education, looks or anything else because it is God who helps us in times of trouble and leads us along the right path. Why? Because He loves us as the people He created.
So, when the journey through life gets tough, remember the promises of God given in this Psalm – that He will guide you through them, that He is your refuge and strength and all you need in this life because He watches over your life, from when you entered it to when you will return to Him and His loving embrace.
Lord God, increase my faith. Direct my heart to turn to you when I face trials in my life and when problems seem to overwhelm me. Give me strength to face each day with the trials and temptations that come with it. Help me keep my heart set on you and my priorities in the right order. Please be with those who have lost loved ones and give them strength and peace. Bless and help those who are sick. Shower them with your love and assurance. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.