My thoughts (David Zier):
There are many verses in the Hebrew Bible that associate God with war and destruction. This psalm has several of those images. Verse 21 is a good example: But God will shatter the heads of God’s enemies, the hairy crown of those who walk in their guilty ways.
Some may read that and wonder, “Where is God’s grace in that statement?” I remind myself that these writings are from our spiritual ancestors, and these are their experiences and spiritual journeys with God, whether or not I want to embrace them. They were going through difficult times: the rise and fall of Israel, discrimination, separation, and relocation. But then as I reread verses 5 through 10, I get a little more perspective.
God of orphans and protector of widows is God in holy habitation. God gives the desolate a home to live in; God leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious live in a parched land. O God, when you went out before your people, when you marched through the wilderness, the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain at the presence of God, the God of Sinai, at the presence of God, the God of Israel. Rain in abundance, O God, you showered abroad; you restored your heritage when it languished; your flock found a dwelling in it; in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.
This reminds me of what we are told in the book of James (2:15-17): If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.
To me, it seems that being scattered (verse 1) from God and walking in guilty ways are the things we do that take us away from God. Jesus tells us the first will be last and the last will be first. If we spend our time putting ourselves first, with an attitude of “it’s all about me,” how can we be living within the character of God? How are we putting others’ interests ahead of our own, as Jesus showed us during his ministry?
So now I think, “When do I feel scattered from God?” Response: When I think it is all about “me.” I will continue to strive to put God ahead in all things.
Thought for the Day (Prayer): Are you feeling scattered from God? Where do you put God in all things? Who’s out in front, you or God?
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.