Psalm 34 - Which of you desires life?

O fear the Lord, you his holy ones, for those who fear him have no want.
The young lions suffer want and hunger, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Come, O children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Which of you desires life, and covets many days to enjoy good?
Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.
Psalm 34 (NRSV)
Proper 14, Year B, verses 1-8, Sunday between August 7 and August 13
Proper 15, Year B, verses 9-14, Sunday between August 14 and August 20
Proper 16, Year B, verses 15-22, Sunday between August 21 and August 28
Proper 25, Year B, verses 1-8, (19-22), Sunday between October 23 and October 29
All Saints, Year A, verse 1-10, 22, Sunday November 1, or the 1st Sunday in November

These verses speak of the link between fear of the Lord and right action, and the vision that obedience to God's will leads life.

Who among you wants to live a long, good life?... Do you hear anybody saying "No"?

One of the interesting things about the psalms is that they are not only prayers of the individual. Even in their early contexts, they were prayers voiced out loud in the presence of others. In their current, canonical context, they are read and heard in worship, no matter who is in the room. The faithful - monks and nuns in their cloisters, little old ladies sitting in their parlors with the family Bible, prisoners in the jails and the sick and dying in their beds - come across these words no matter what their station or circumstance.

The words of the psalms are not always consonant with where we are. No one can quarrel much with the sound advice to: "Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it." Yet all too often those who seek the Lord do lack good and needed things. It is not just young lions that suffer want and hunger.

Yet we know these as words both to and from the Lord. We believe there is value in bring these words to our consciousness and to our lips. Can we see the Lord's care and mercy when we are in that difficult place of trying to walk faithfully even when our circumstances do not obviously reflect God's favor.

Nevertheless, we might "Keep your tongue from evil, and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it."

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