I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the thoughts and words of this reading that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
Psalm 119:73-80 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
73 Your hands have made and fashioned me;
give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
74 Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,
because I have hoped in your word.
75 I know, O Lord, that your judgments are right,
and that in faithfulness you have humbled me.
76 Let your steadfast love become my comfort
according to your promise to your servant.
77 Let your mercy come to me, that I may live;
for your law is my delight.
78 Let the arrogant be put to shame,
because they have subverted me with guile;
as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
79 Let those who fear you turn to me,
so that they may know your decrees.
80 May my heart be blameless in your statutes,
so that I may not be put to shame.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
Today we have yet another reading from the longest Psalm in the Bible. It is mostly an extended prayer. In today’s passage, the psalmist makes a request: give me understanding that I may learn your commandments. The prayer for wisdom, for understanding, is surely among the most significant we can pray.
Perhaps the best-known prayer for wisdom came from King Solomon in the Hebrew Scriptures. He was a young kind and had struggled to ascend to the throne that was rightfully his, even though he was not the eldest son of his father, the great king David. After he became king, he went to worship at the high place at Gibeon because, at this time, there was still no Temple in Jerusalem. As he worshipped there, he fell asleep and had a powerful dream. You may know the kind I’m talking about. The ones that help you clarify who you are and what you are about. The ones that you remember the rest of your life. In this dream, God came to him and said, “Ask whatever you wish, and I’ll give it to you.”
What would you have answered? Riches? Honor? Long life? Those are the usual answers, aren’t they? Or maybe it’s Janis Joplin’s prayer: “Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz? My friends all drive Porsches, I must make amends.” God is probably used to the bargaining prayers, “Lord, if you’ll let me win the lottery, I’ll give half to the church!”
But, Solomon’s prayer was different. His prayer has been a model prayer used by many leaders since. Harry Truman prayed Solomon’s prayer when he was sworn in as president. He said,
You showed so much kindness to your servant my father David when he walked before you in truth, righteousness, and with a heart true to you. You’ve kept this great loyalty and kindness for him and have now given him a son to sit on his throne. And now, Lord my God, you have made me, your servant, king in my father David’s place. But I’m young and inexperienced. I know next to nothing. But I’m here, your servant, in the middle of the people you have chosen, a large population that can’t be numbered or counted due to its vast size. Please give your servant a discerning mind in order to govern your people and to distinguish good from evil, because no one is able to govern this important people of yours without your help. (1 Kings 3:6-9)
It is a great moment for Solomon. God is pleased with his prayer and says that he will give him wisdom, as he asked for it, and also all those things he did not ask that are usually at the top of the list: honor and riches.
There are not many Bible stories I remember hearing for the first time. But, this one I remember. I don’t so much remember where I was or who told it to me. Rather, I remember my utter surprise and my utter puzzlement that Solomon did not ask for a million dollars or a cool car or fame or any of the other things always on my list! I remember thinking that Wisdom was not that big of a deal and how I would have failed God’s test. Wisdom was not at the top of my list. It didn’t even make my list! Today, however, it’s on my list! I pray for wisdom.
The prayer of the psalmist in Psalm 119 is like Solomon’s prayer—Give me understanding, give me wisdom.
I close with this prayer from The United Methodist Hymnal, p. 597:
From the cowardice that dares not face new truth,
From the laziness that is contented with half-truth,
From the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth,
Good Lord, deliver me. Amen. (Prayer from Kenya)
There is a lot of theology woven in to hymns. To enhance today’s reading, I recommend listening to “Break Thou the Bread of Life”. I hope you will take a few moments to let the words of this message and the emotion that always connects us to music connect with your soul. Listen to this hymn on SoundCloud.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster
“Break Thou the Bread of Life”
- Break Thou the bread of life, dear Lord, to me,
As Thou didst break the loaves beside the sea;
Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord;
My spirit pants for Thee, O living Word!
- Bless Thou the truth, dear Lord, to me, to me,
As Thou didst bless the bread by Galilee;
Then shall all bondage cease, all fetters fall;
And I shall find my peace, my all in all.
- Thou art the bread of life, O Lord, to me,
Thy holy Word the truth that saveth me;
Give me to eat and live with Thee above;
Teach me to love Thy truth, for Thou art love.
- Oh, send Thy Spirit, Lord, now unto me,
That He may touch my eyes, and make me see:
Show me the truth concealed within Thy Word,
And in Thy Book revealed I see the Lord.