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Psalm 20

A Journey Through the Psalms: Reflections for Worried Hearts and Troubled Times
Preaching the Psalms Cycles A, B, C
Everyone wants a protector. It is, as young people are fond of saying, a "no brainer." Life is no bowl of cherries and despite our New Testament Jesus and his calls to love and forgiveness, we are not fooled. We know that enemies abound. We all know that everyone could use a protector. Whether it's women who suffer and die from the scourge of domestic violence or homeless people set upon by amoral attackers, a protector is needed. Whether it is workers stripped of their pensions by corporations recording record profits or students no longer able to pay for their education, a protector is needed. Whether it is a youngster in the grip of sexual abuse or the angry, unjust accusations of coworkers or community members, a protector is needed.

Around this troubled globe there are countless scenarios where we can say that a protector is needed. Indeed, the list is so long that the heart grows numb in the reading. Yet, the truth is clear. A protector is needed.

The psalm describes this protector with words that warm our spirits. So powerful is this protector that even the utterance of God's name is protection (v. 1). This protector will fulfill our desires and see our plans come to fruition. This protector will provide us with the victory. This protector is the real deal. Incredibly, this protector is so powerful that we are to abandon our weapons and defenses and place our total trust in him (v. 7). What's that? Come again?

Ah. There's the rub. We want the protection. Who doesn't? But letting go of our own weapons? Abandoning our own right to protect ourselves? That's a bit of a different story. Only a fool surrenders his or her weapons and defenses. For too many of us, the MGM voice of Moses echoes in our souls. They will have to pry our weapons from our "cold, dead hands."

It seems that we would have it both ways. We want the protection, but find it hard to trust the protector. We want the benefits of the relationship, but none of the costs.

This psalm finds us in an all too familiar place. Trusting, really trusting in God just isn't our strong suit, is it? How does that old World War I song go? "Praise The Lord And Pass The Ammunition"? That really isn't what God has in mind for us, is it?

So let us live into the questions. How can we take that giant step of faith? How can we cease to depend upon our puny defenses and trust wholly in God? What will it take for us to release all the baggage we carry and to throw our hearts and souls upon the mercy and wonder of God?

Tough questions. Tougher answers. But in community, in commitment, in forging ahead in faith, they just might be found.
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For June 20, 2021:
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That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side.” Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

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Appearances are deceiving. Goliath looks unconquerable, and the young shepherd boy who says thanks but no thanks to the king’s armor, is pretty confident that five smooth stones will be enough to change the world.

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1 Samuel 17: (1a, 4, 11, 19-23) 32-49
We like underdogs, which is why we like the story of David and Goliath. About David’s improbable victory John Wesley wrote:

Thus does God often do great things for His people by the weak things of the world. (Commentary On the Bible, p.189)   

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1 Samuel 17:(1a, 4-11, 19-23), 32-49

Laura took some vegetables out of the bag to chop. “So, I hear you are in a bit of trouble at school.”

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The first thing Jack saw when he walked into church on the Sunday morning was a bright red octopus. It seemed an odd animal to be in church, but Jack's heart lifted in anticipation, for with an octopus in the offing and a bright red one at that, surely the preacher would have an exciting talk this morning.

Of course it was only a paper octopus, but nonetheless it filled Jack's mind with thoughts of the sea and strange sea creatures and coral reefs and snorkelling and all those things you never usually thought about in church.


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