23 Our steps are made firm by the Lord,
when he delights in our way;
24 though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong,
for the Lord holds us by the hand.
25 I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or their children begging bread.
26 They are ever giving liberally and lending,
and their children become a blessing.
These verses are a beautiful description of a life lived for God and with God in the presence of others. We live in the promises that God makes our steps firm and catches us when we fall, holding us by the hand. We see his provision in the lives of others and accept the invitation to partner with God in sharing out of what He has generously given us.
- Where do you need to sense God making firm your steps?
- When have you experienced God holding your hand, protecting you from falling?
- How does the generosity of God in your life spill into your generosity toward others? What might that look like?
Gracious God, thank you that you invite us to live out our lives in you in the tangible, day to day contexts and experiences. We know what it is to stumble and we pray that we will keep our hand in yours, grateful that it is always there to steady us. May we bear witness to your faithfulness and be agents of your provision to those around us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
27 Depart from evil, and do good;
so you shall abide forever.
28 For the Lord loves justice;
he will not forsake his faithful ones.
The righteous shall be kept safe for ever,
but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land,
and live in it for ever.
These verses begin with the exhortation to “depart from evil and do good.” It’s an invitation to not just resist the evil around us, but the tendency within us to lean toward evil at times. There is a “not that, but this” sort of rhythm to this exhortation as we are invited out of evil motivations and into goodness. The psalmist reminds us that the way of God is the way of safety and thriving.
- How do you experience God’s protection and presence in your life?
- Where in your life do you need to weed out evil and cultivate goodness?
- What does thriving in the promises of God look like to you?
Gracious God - you have created us for goodness as your image-bearers. Thank you that you never stray from your love for justice which includes keeping us close. Help us in our own thriving to seek ways to invite others into your place of safety and flourishing and hope. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
30 The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
and their tongues speak justice.
31 The law of their God is in their hearts;
their steps do not slip.
32 The wicked watch for the righteous,
and seek to kill them.
33 The Lord will not abandon them to their power,
or let them be condemned when they are brought to trial.
The psalmist seems to make the description of the righteous a done deal. But we know that we are all on a journey toward the transformation that the psalmist describes – completely formed to the image of Christ. May we sit with God in these verses, praying for these words to become more and more a reality in our lives and in the meantime may we be compassionate to ourselves and others and acknowledge our dependence on Him for our protection.
- Where do you see God working in your life toward wisdom and/or justice?
- How are you partnering with God in the work He desires to do in your life?
- How does God’s kindness lead you to repentance?
Gracious God, thank you that you envision your people complete in your sight and at the same time, desire to engage us in the transformation to make it so. Help us to partner with you as we learn to align ourselves with you and your mission in the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
34 Wait for the Lord, and keep to his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on the destruction of the wicked.
35 I have seen the wicked oppressing,
and towering like a cedar of Lebanon.
36 Again I passed by, and they were no more;
though I sought them, they could not be found.
How easy it is for us to feel like evil is towering over us, threatening to swallow us up. These feelings instill in us a sense of fear that keeps us from love. The psalmist encourages us to wait for the Lord and be faithful. In our waiting for God, God reminds us that He is the eternal One who has swallowed up death and we are invited to live as participants of His life, even in the dark places of the world.
- When have you seen wickedness come to naught?
- Are there places in your life where fear of evil has overshadowed the love of the Almighty God?
- What does it look like to trust in the overpowering loving presence of God today?
Gracious God, we experience the oppression of evil in the world and it can sometimes feel overpowering. In those moments when we feel overwhelmed and victimized, remind us that you are the Almighty God and worthy of waiting for. Help us to be faithful and patient for the work you are doing in the world and in us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
37 Mark the blameless, and behold the upright,
for there is posterity for the peaceable.
38 But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
the posterity of the wicked shall be cut off.
39 The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
he is their refuge in the time of trouble.
40 The Lord helps them and rescues them;
he rescues them from the wicked, and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.
The psalmist finishes out this song by encouraging us to look around and notice people exemplifying people what it means to follow intently after God. There are blessings of peace and safety and flourishing for those who look to Him for their provision and purpose.
- Where do you see wholehearted followers of Christ in your context?
- What have you heard recently from God in your times of looking to Him?
- In what areas of your life is God inviting you to flourish in new ways?
Gracious God, thank you for reflecting yourself through your followers on earth who love you. As we love you, help us to live openly among your people and in the world so that others see you and are encouraged. In our moments when evil is around us, turn our eyes to you and help us to yield our hearts to your provision and purpose. In Jesus’ name, Amen.