August 24 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” ~Psalm 121:1-2

OLD TESTAMENT

“The Songs of Ascents”

The songs of ascents were most likely used in processionals on special occasions. Temple worship leaders led the people in song as they all passed through the city streets of Jerusalem, ascending toward the temple mount. Some of the songs in this collection are great celebrations meant to be sung on festive occasions. Others might be prayers or laments for more somber occasions.

Psalm 120

In Psalm 120, the writer speaks of his own integrity and his desire for peace, but he acknowledges that he lives among liars who only want war. Sometimes it is frustrating to live in a world where others do not play by the same rules. This person can run his mouth, but I have to watch what I say. That person can rage and threat, but I have to pursue peace. Thankfully, there is hope in such a world when we live wisely and cry out to God to save us in our distress. We must never lower ourselves to the level of liars and lunatics who only want to stir up trouble. We must be wise as serpents and harmless as doves while calling out to God for salvation.

Psalm 121

Imagine for moment a man at work in his field. He lives in a small village some distance from the great city of Jerusalem. When he looks up from his work, pausing to wipe his brow, he can see fields and hills stretching to the horizon, and in the distance, the turrets of the walled city high on Mount Zion. On a clear day, he can even see the place of worship and his mind turns to thoughts of God, as it so often does.

This God who dwells in the temple is the Creator, the maker of every hill and valley and mountain and stream on earth. And yet He is with the man as he works, which surely must prompt him to say, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (vv. 1-2). God watches over us, whatever we are doing. Whether we are behind a plow or on a pilgrimage—that is, whether at work or in worship—He keeps our foot from slipping. “The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore” (v. 8).

Psalm 122

David loves his city, he loves going to the place of worship, and he loves being around people who feel the same way! “I rejoiced with those who said to me, ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord.’” When a friend said, C’mon, I hear the musicians have a new song ready today! Let’s go sing and pray, the king was eager to go. One can imagine David standing at the city gates with friends, family, and court officials preparing to make their way to the temple. “Our feet are standing in your gates, O Jerusalem” (v. 2). Once there, he prays for God to bless his entire city with peace and prosperity. Do you love to go to the place of worship? Do you have people in your life who say, “Let us go to the house of the Lord?” God, we long for you.

Psalm 123

The word pictures of slaves looking to their masters and a maid looking to her mistress poetically evoke emotions of dependence. “So our eyes look to the Lord our God” (v. 2). The poet is saying, I need you, God. Right now I am in need of your mercy. This isn’t the mercy offered to sinners; it is the kind sought when a person is overwhelmed with difficulty. God responds to such humble prayers. In fact, He finds them irresistible, and He will show mercy.

NEW TESTAMENT

You’ve heard the old adage “Never take your brother to court,” but what about the principle of justice? What about the so-called brother who swindles another and says, “You can’t sue me!” Well, Paul’s primary point in chapter 6 is not the neglect of justice, rather he warns against using the court to cheat one’s brother and/or airing dirty laundry for all the world to see. Instead of having a public showdown on Judge Judy, resolve disagreements privately. If need be, church elders should appoint a wise mediator from within the congregation to preside over a hearing. At first glance, 1 Corinthians 6 looks like a detailed scolding for Corinthian ears only, but the message is so much bigger. This passage is about Christian motives and Christian testimony. Those who cheat each other are not true brothers and sisters in Christ (vv. 9-11).


Lectio Divina is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the senior pastor of Calvary Church in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.