In the Office: What We Can Do

The psalm from this morning’s Daily Office (Psalm 37:1-17) offers direction and assurance to a discouraged people who look at the world around them and see too many ways in which the powerful and unrighteous flourish while the weak and righteous struggle. Admittedly, I am frequently discouraged by that precise dynamic; although — even as I say that — I recognize how tempting it is to identify ourselves with the “ranks of the righteous,” while consigning everyone with whom we disagree to the “ranks of the unrighteous.”

This makes it all the more significant, therefore, that the psalm — which is full of imperative verbs, calling us to take action — summons us not to take matters into our own hands and overthrow the wicked, but to put out trust that much more completely and faithfully in the Lord. Just look at the recommended list of actions that give substance to what we can do:

  • Do not fret because of those who are evil…(v. 1)
  • Trust in the LORD and do good…(v. 3)
  • Take delight in the LORD…(v. 4)
  • Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him…(v. 5)
  • Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him…(v. 7)
  • Do not fret when people succeed in their ways…(v. 7)
  • Refrain from anger and turn from wrath…(v. 8)

Of course, I’m tempted to add that in a representative democracy like the one in which we live there are other steps that we can (and perhaps should) take: we can write our representatives; we can protest; we can vote. But given the apparent dysfunction of our body politic, these actions may bring as much frustration as they bring peace. Nevertheless, the scriptures offer this assurance:

Better the little that the righteous have
    than the wealth of many wicked;
for the power of the wicked will be broken,
    but the Lord upholds the righteous. (Psalm 37:17)

May the Lord show Himself faithful to all those who look to Him today; and may we be among those who, in trust of His word, find our greatness in serving others, our wealth in His kingdom, and our glory in His cross.

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