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Archive for February 2nd, 2020


Sunday, February 2, 2020

Psalm 37: Humility and Patience – Part I

From Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation for February 2, 2013: “When you truly know, the giveaway is that you know that you do not know! Truly holy people are always humble. If you are not humble, you have not experienced the Holy One. If you don’t see humility and patience in religion, you know it’s not on the right course”.

Adapted from CAC Foundation Set: Gospel Call to Compassionate Action
(Bias from the Bottom) and Contemplative Prayer
(CD, DVD, MP3)

psalm-37-4[1]I have been thinking about this all morning and today at noon scripture fell open at Psalm 37, a song that “responds to the problem of evil, which the Old Testament often expresses as a question: Why do the wicked and the good suffer? The psalm answers that the situation is only temporary.  God will reverse things, rewarding the good and punishing the wicked here on earth.  The perspective is concrete and earthbound: people’s very actions place them among the ranks of the good or wicked.  Each group or ‘way’ has its own inherent dynamism – eventual frustration for the wicked, eventual reward for the just”.  (Senior cf. 670)

The word EVENTUAL leaps out at us.  We want all solutions immediately.  We want to bend time and space to our will as we believe God does.  Our humanity brings us limitation and may spur us to lust after power and prestige.  Our divinity offers us infinity and calls us to humility and patience.  With this hymn of answers God invites us this weekend to explore the puzzle of human suffering.  Let us examine the images and logic of this acrostic psalm to see what it says to us about patience and humility.

The first stanza, ALEPH, leaps into a suggestion for how to handle evil: Do not be provoked by evildoers; do not envy those who do wrong.

The second, BETH, describes how to do away with our anger or anxiety: Find your delight in the Lord who will give you your heart’s desire.

The third, GIMEL, tells us what to aim for: Make your integrity shine like the dawn.

The fourth, DALETH, is specific: Be still before the Lord; wait for God.

The fifth, HE, tells us the consequence of anger: Give up your anger, abandon your wrath; do not be provoked; it brings only harm.

The sixth, WAW, leaves no doubt about outcomes: Wait a little, and the wicked will be no more; look for them and they will not be there.  But the poor will possess the land, will delight in great prosperity.

The seventh, ZAYIN, tells us that it is really the wicked who are envious: The wicked plot against the just and grind their teeth at them.

The eighth, HETH, describes how the plots turn back on the plotters: Their swords will pierce their own hearts; their bows will be broken.

The ninth, TETH, keeps us focused: The Lord will sustain the just.

The tenth, YODH, tells us that suffering can lead to everlasting peace: The Lord watches over the days of the blameless; their heritage lasts forever.

The eleventh, KAPH, reminds us that those who impose suffering fade away: Like the beauty of meadows the wicked perish; like smoke they disappear. 

Spend some time with this psalm today and open the acrostic.  The message within is a letter of love from God to us.  In humility . . . let us accept it.  With patience . . . let us live it.


Image from: http://ingridschlueter.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/gods-counsel-in-the-midst-of-trouble/

Tomorrow, more reflection on Psalm 37.  Find a good commentary and explore.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.670. Print.

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