June 23, 2017

Psalm of the Heart

June 23, 2017

Daily Reading

Genesis 35:1-4

Acts 5:17-26

Psalm 86:1-12

This week’s sermon text: James 5:13-19

Field Notes
“The Psalms express the full range of states of the human heart: in the Psalms we find honest, sometimes brutal, expressions of the human heart. The Bible would not be valuable if it were a string of sentimental platitudes or religious propaganda. But it is not. The songs and poems that are the Psalms express the highest joy and the deepest sorrow. Their authors plead with God, shout at God, beg God for forgiveness. They exalt virtues and righteousness, and they condemn in the bitterest terms the ugly abuses people sometimes carry out.” (“How We Should Read the Psalms” by Mel Lawrenz, Director of the Brook Network)
Our psalmist today sounds as though he has been somehow distanced from God for a while. He is poor and needy but also devoted. He calls on God and asks God to listen and answer. In his past experiences, God must have done so since he also speaks with assurance. In my own journey, there have been times of distance and times of unity and everything in between. I wonder why God should bother to listen to me at times when I may not have been very present to him. A psalm like this one helps me approach him again. He was not gone; I was.

Questions for the Field
Consider these questions as you reread the psalm:

  • Is there a promise to claim?
  • Is there a lesson to learn?
  • Is there a blessing to enjoy?
  • Is there a command to obey?
  • Is there a sin to avoid?
  • Is there a new thought to carry with me?

(Adapted from a list by Adrian Rogers from “What Christian Want to Know”)

Family Field Talk
Come up with a title for the psalm.

Prayer Guide
Dear God, the psalms and hymns of people who have gone before us carry the stories of our common humanity. Just as we might listen to an older friend, help us to sit with the “stories of old,” knowing that they are also the stories for today. The universally-present struggles and joys are ours, as are the prayers. Hear our prayers, past and present. Amen.