October 13, 2021
Smoky Mountain District
Psalm 39 (CEB)I promised I would watch my steps
so as not to sin with my tongue;
promised to keep my mouth shut
as long as the wicked were in my presence.
2 So I was completely quiet, silent.
I kept my peace, but it did no good.
My pain got worse.
3 My heart got hot inside me;
while stewing over it, the fire burned.
Then I spoke out with my tongue:
4 “Let me know my end, Lord.
How many days do I have left?
I want to know how brief my time is.”
5 You’ve made my days so short;
my lifetime is like nothing in your eyes.
Yes, a human life is nothing but a puff of air! Selah
6 Yes, people wander around like shadows;
yes, they hustle and bustle, but pointlessly;
they don’t even know who will get the wealth they’ve amassed.
7 So now, Lord, what should I be waiting for?
My hope is set on you.
8 Deliver me from all my sins;
don’t make me some foolish person’s joke.
9 I am completely silent; I won’t open my mouth
because you have acted.
10 Get this plague of yours off me!
I’m being destroyed by the blows from your fist.
11 You discipline people for their sin, punishing them;
like a moth, you ruin what they treasure.
Yes, a human life is just a puff of air! Selah
12 Hear my prayer, Lord!
Listen closely to my cry for help!
Please don’t ignore my tears!
I’m just a foreigner—
an immigrant staying with you,
just like all my ancestors were.
13 Look away from me
so I can be happy again
before I pass away and am gone.
DevotionManure! It is disgusting! Admittedly, fresh manure especially has a rather strong odor! But as we continue through this pandemic with no immediate end in sight; the hatred, divisiveness, and anger in our communities; and even the uncertainty and anxiety of our own denominational future, manure has been on my mind and even has appeared in my study and devotions lately.
A few weeks ago, Scott Hughes asked the participants in Discipleship for a Post-Pandemic World to name what discipleship smells like. A variety of answers were offered from fresh, home-baked bread to candles to sweaty body odor after working all day at a mission project. However, someone said it smells like manure since these days we are oftentimes stuck in mire and ugliness. Several days later, I was reading an article by Mark D. Roberts at Fuller De Pree Center who asked, “What is manure?” He stated we often refer to manure as a fertilizer. While true, the actual Greek word, koprion, for manure means “dung” or “excrement” of animals. He further poses the following question to ponder – what is your manure? What is disgusting or difficult in your life?
The Psalmist in Psalm 39 cries out to God in a sense of abandonment and even anger. While not stated as such, it’s as if the Psalmist is experiencing and expressing manure in his life! The Psalmist’s soul is deeply troubled. He keeps silent in his anguish for fear that his words would be rebellious. His anger overflows and consumes his soul. He pleads to God to take away the difficulties and burdens. He experiences his own silence but also the silence of God – there are no easy answers or guidance.
Hmm … I wonder how you express all your hard questions or doubts about God’s action in your life? Can you cry out in tears? Can you yell in anger to God? Just as ultimately the Psalmist experienced, I wonder if you see hope that God does indeed hear our prayers and discover ways that our burdens are gifts? In these distasteful times in your life, what or who has helped you become fruitful – to grow in your walk with Jesus?