August 26 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse

Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages

Lectio Divina

“Plowmen have plowed my back and made their furrows long. But the Lord is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.” ~Psalm 129:3-24

OLD TESTAMENT

Psalm 128

Here is a psalm that celebrates life: enjoying the fruit of one’s labors, having children and watching them grow up and succeed, witnessing and benefitting from the peace of one’s city, and taking pleasure in grandchildren. Passages like this are best read side-by-side with passages that urge us to live in light of eternity. Biblical scholars have pointed out the earthy nature of the Old Testament (focused as it is on life here and now) compared with the heavenly nature of the New Testament. I think it is best to see these as converging rather than contrasting worldviews. We must not disregard this present life, for to do so is to denigrate the Creator. God created this world and gave us this life and everything in it. Therefore, we must live fully in the present while praying daily for God’s kingdom to come. I like to say that we ought to keep our feet planted firmly on earthly soil while fixing our eyes on the horizon looking for the coming kingdom.

Psalm 129

Psalm 129 is another prayer for God to avenge His people. Using poetic language, the songwriter speaks of being used by others, “Plowman have plowed my back” (v. 3). We might be less lyrical: I busted my hump and someone else profited! Here then is a prayer asking that those who seek our harm will not experience blessing. As we have already observed many times, the psalmists are not getting even. They are praying for God to care for the wrongs they have endured and then trusting Him to avenge them.

Psalm 130

The songwriter longs for God’s forgiveness. He readily admits that he has done wrong, and he asks God to clear his slate. “If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand. But with you there is forgiveness” (vv. 3-4). He then expresses his longing for God. More than the night watchman longs for the sun to rise so that he can go home and rest, the psalmist yearns for God to make His face to shine upon him so that he can enjoy God’s “unfailing love” (v. 7). What a beautiful prayer for forgiveness!

Psalm 131

Here is a poetic, child-like confession of faith by David. There are matters that he cannot fully understand—“things too wonderful for me” (v. 1)—but rather than react in frustration, David responds in faith. “But I have stilled and quieted my soul” (v. 2). He looks to God, who does understand all things, and finds his soul at rest. So, when there is much in this world that is too difficult to comprehend, “put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore” (v. 3).

NEW TESTAMENT

Paul offers ad hoc advice for periods of significant persecution (“the present crisis” in 1 Corinthians 7:26). In such situations, he counsels those who are unmarried to remain that way. When you have a family, persecution is a greater risk and a graver danger. The additional worry for a spouse and children intensifies the pressure. Thus, Paul’s expression “I want to spare you this” (1 Cor. 7:28). However, even in such dire circumstances, it is not wrong to marry. To marry or not marry is a matter of what is wisest and best given the situation.

There is in Paul’s words an eternal perspective that we must keep in mind. Even if we are not going through a crisis at present, the reality is that “the time is short” (1 Cor. 7:29).  We must therefore do all our living in light of eternity. We should not get so caught up in life as to forget “this world in its present form is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:31). Live with an eternal perspective. Aren’t you glad that there is more to life than these passing days?!


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.