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 34:1-8 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Praise for Deliverance from Trouble
Of David, when he feigned madness before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.
1 I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
3 O magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Look to him, and be radiant;
so your[a] faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord,
and was saved from every trouble.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
8 O taste and see that the Lord is good;
happy are those who take refuge in him.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
The Psalms help us express a wide range of emotions and give voice to many of our life experiences and how our faith in God relates to them. Psalm 34 expresses poetically and powerfully thanksgiving for deliverance from fears.
In 1947 a government accounting clerk in Soviet Russia named Vladimir Zenchenkov returned home from a night of drinking to discover that he had misplaced 400 ration cards belonging to his boss. Since ration cards were a prized commodity in postwar Russia, he was sure that he was bound for Siberia. His wife advised her husband to make himself scarce and the next day she told his coworkers that he had run off with another woman. For the next twenty-two years, according to newspaper reports, the terrified Zenchenkov never once left his house.
In 1969 Mrs. Zenchenkov died, and her husband went to the local police station to turn himself in. It was only then that he learned that the ration cards had turned up in his desk drawer the day after he disappeared in 1947. (Bruce Felton, What Were They Thinking? (Guilford, Connecticut: The Globe Pequot Press, 2003), p. 141)
Let that story sink in for a moment. Fear held him captive for more than two decades.
You may remember the advice columnist Ann Landers, who died in 2002. At the height of her career, she received over 10,000 letters a day. When asked what topic was most common in those letters, she answered without hesitation: fear. Fear can take many forms. It is an important and useful emotion that can be very helpful in keeping us safe and helping us make good decisions. But, it can also hold us captive and cause us to make terrible decisions if he begins to take over our lives and becomes unhealthy and irrational fear.
The trust the psalmist has in God has delivered him from that kind of toxic fear. No wonder the psalmist joyfully proclaims, “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears…O taste and see that the LORD is good!”
There is a lot of theology woven into hymns. To enhance today’s reading, I recommend listening to “Come, Christians, Join to Sing”.
1 Come, Christians, join to sing
loud praise to Christ we bring;
let all, with heart and voice,
before his throne rejoice;
praise is his gracious choice.
2 Come, lift your hearts on high,
let praises fill the sky;
Christ is our guide and friend
on whom we can depend:
his love shall never end.
3 Praise yet our Christ again,
life shall not end the strain;
on heaven’s blissful shore,
his goodness we’ll adore,
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. 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