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Daily Devotional • April 16

David Baumann
The Wide-Open Eyes of Jesus
A Reading from Psalms 146, 147

Psalm 146

1    Hallelujah!
Praise the LORD, O my soul! *
    I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
    I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
2    Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, *
    for there is no help in them.
3    When they breathe their last, they return to earth, *
    and in that day their thoughts perish.
4    Happy are they who have the God of Jacob for their help! *
    whose hope is in the LORD their God;
5    Who made heaven and earth, the seas, and all that is in them; *
    who keeps his promise for ever;
6    Who gives justice to those who are oppressed, *
    and food to those who hunger.
7    The LORD sets the prisoners free;
the LORD opens the eyes of the blind; *
    the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
8    The LORD loves the righteous;
the LORD cares for the stranger; *
    he sustains the orphan and widow,
    but frustrates the way of the wicked.
9    The LORD shall reign for ever, *
    your God, O Zion, throughout all generations.

Psalm 147

1    Hallelujah!
How good it is to sing praises to our God! *
    how pleasant it is to honor him with praise!
2    The LORD rebuilds Jerusalem; *
    he gathers the exiles of Israel.
3    He heals the brokenhearted *
    and binds up their wounds.
4    He counts the number of the stars *
    and calls them all by their names.
5    Great is our LORD and mighty in power; *
    there is no limit to his wisdom.
6    The LORD lifts up the lowly, *
    but casts the wicked to the ground.
7    Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; *
    make music to our God upon the harp.
8    He covers the heavens with clouds *
    and prepares rain for the earth;
9    He makes grass to grow upon the mountains *
    and green plants to serve mankind.
10    He provides food for flocks and herds *
    and for the young ravens when they cry.
11    He is not impressed by the might of a horse; *
    he has no pleasure in the strength of a man;
12    But the LORD has pleasure in those who fear him, *
    in those who await his gracious favor.

13    Worship the LORD, O Jerusalem; *
    praise your God, O Zion;
14    For he has strengthened the bars of your gates; *
    he has blessed your children within you.
15    He has established peace on your borders; *
    he satisfies you with the finest wheat.
16    He sends out his command to the earth, *
    and his word runs very swiftly.
17    He gives snow like wool; *
    he scatters hoarfrost like ashes.
18    He scatters his hail like bread crumbs; *
    who can stand against his cold?
19    He sends forth his word and melts them; *
    he blows with his wind, and the waters flow.
20    He declares his word to Jacob, *
    his statutes and his judgments to Israel.
21    He has not done so to any other nation; *
    to them he has not revealed his judgments.

In 1977, Franco Zeffirelli’s television mini-series, Jesus of Nazareth, appeared. I remember one scene early in the movie in which Roman soldiers ride roughshod over the citizens of Nazareth. There are shouts, and dust rises amidst overturned carts of fruit and vegetables. After they have galloped away, one man leaps into the street and, full of anger, shakes his fist at the sky and shouts, “How long, O Lord?” And then the camera slowly shifts past the justly furious man and focuses on a boy standing in shadows. His eyes are wide open with shock, sympathy, and sorrow. It is Jesus at 12 years old. How long, O Lord, indeed? He is already here. He lives in your hometown. Already he bears the sins and sorrows of the world, the injustices and the ever-present crushing of the weak by the earthly powerful. 

Psalm 146 broadcasts a message for all people, for all time, for every stage of humanity: “Put not your trust in rulers, nor in any child of earth, for there is no help in them. … the God of Jacob … gives justice to those who are oppressed and food to those who hunger.” Psalm 147 recognizes the hurts of earth; it knows that Jerusalem has been destroyed but promises that “the Lord rebuilds Jerusalem”; he knows that there are those who are “brokenhearted” and who have “wounds,” and promises that they will be healed and bound up. It assures the faithful that “the Lord lifts up the lowly, but casts the wicked to the ground.” The psalms raises our eyes to see that the stars are not only known but have names, to behold the heavens covered with clouds, the seasonal rain, grass growing on the mountains; we see God in the unending round of nature whose permanence shows how transitory are the strongest powers that human politics and oppression can achieve. How long, O Lord, indeed? He is already here. He lives in your hometown.

David Baumann served for nearly 50 years as an Episcopal priest in the Dioceses of Los Angeles and Springfield. He has published nonfiction, science fiction, and short stories. Two exuberant small daughters make sure he never gets any rest.

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Today we pray for:

The Anglican Church of Tanzania
Jerusalem Peacebuilders, West Brattleboro, Vermont
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