Friday, February 12, 2016

12th Day Orthros

Psalms for the 12th Day
62 63 64 65 66 67

O God, in the night my soul awakens early to You, for Your laws are a light.

Prayer, morning and evening. These are times of thankfulness. I awake in the pre-dawn darkness. I say, ‘Lord, help me! Have mercy!’ Is this a prayer of gratitude? Perhaps it doesn’t seem so, but for me, it is. I awake, a sinner. I should awake fresh and bright. That is how God made me. But I am a fallen creature, and each morning by His power and grace, He must remake me in His image, restore the ikon of myself in Him that I have broken by my dreams. Yes, my dreams. For there is only one reality, one world, and that is His. Into it I must, we must, all awake, leaving behind mere dreams, awaken to the Light.

Enlighten the eyes of my understanding that I may not sleep to death in sins.

And He gives me grace to greet the new day with joy, to know that He is here, with us, even with me, and that unlike our images of Him, He is not angry with me. He loves me. He assigns the psalms for me, this twelfth day, as my prayer to Him, reveals in them to me His answer, teaches me in the words I offer what He knows I need to follow Him today, feeds me by them our daily bread.

God has spoken once,
twice I have heard this:
it is for God to be strong,
for You, Lord, to be loving;
and You Yourself repay
man as his works deserve.
Psalm 62:11-12

‘What works?’ I ask Him, and He makes me remember, ‘How blessed are those who show mercy! for mercy shall be shown them. How blessed are the peace makers! God shall call them His sons.’

And while I am in wonder about these things, time doesn’t stop for a moment. I am awake now, and forgetting myself, I approach Him in the psalms.

God, You are my God, I am seeking You,
my soul is thirsting for You,
my flesh is longing for You,
a land parched, weary and waterless;
I long to gaze on You in the Sanctuary,
and to see Your power and glory.
Your love is better than life itself,
my lips will recite Your praise;
all my life I will bless You,
in Your name lift up my hands;
my soul will feast most richly,
on my lips a song of joy
and, in my mouth, praise.
On my bed I think of You,
I meditate on You all night long,
for You have always helped me.
I sing for joy in the shadow of Your wings;
my soul clings close to You,
Your right hand supports me.
But may those now hounding me to death
go down to the earth below,
consigned to the edge of the sword,
and left as food for jackals.
Then will the king rejoice in God,
and all who swear by him be able to boast
once these lying mouths are silenced.
Psalm 63

Yes, may those now hounding me to death. Who are they? No, what are they? For the holy apostle says, they are not earthly enemies, but powers and principalities—they may be unseen, but they are very much heard, inwardly, accusing those who listen to them of crimes they never committed, except in thoughts or dreams. But the Lord by His Word has dispelled the darkness, and silenced those lying mouths that say, ‘You are unworthy. You have sinned. You aren’t worth redeeming.’ He has made us ‘a nation of kings and priests to serve our God.’ Not then, but now, ‘will the king,’ even I, ‘rejoice in God,’ for ‘these lying mouths are silenced.’

All flesh must come to You
with all its sins;
though our faults overpower us,
You blot them out.
Psalm 65:2-3

What God is this, who treats us this way? Though my faults overpower me, yes, He blots them out. Can there be a miracle greater than this?

The nations are in uproar, in panic
those who live at the ends of the world,
as Your miracles bring shouts of joy
to the portals of morning and evening.
Psalm 65:8

And I offer the rest of the thanksgiving hymn, remembering who is in control of the whole earth, who provides its bounty, who curtails its pride by drought, who blesses and who withdraws blessing when He sees fit, yet doing everything out of love, for love is His nature, and He shows us what love is by what He does.

You tested us, God,
You refined us like silver,
You let us fall into the net,
You laid heavy burdens on our backs,
You let people drive over our heads;
but now the ordeal by fire and water is over,
and You allow us once more to draw breath.
Psalm 66:10-12

I offer these words and breathe a sigh of relief, for neither have I come too late nor been spared these ordeals. My life has had a share in these tests of God’s people, so I must be one of them. He validates me again and again, even as my faults overpower me, and I can praise and thank Him with no better words than He put into my mouth before I ever was born.

Blessed be God,
who neither ignored my prayer
nor deprived me of His love.
Psalm 66:20

O Lord, grant us to greet the coming day in peace…

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