Scripture: Psalm 16
Key verses: (5-6)
“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
I have a goodly heritage” (NRSV)
“My choice is you, God, first and only.
And now I find I’m your choice!
You set me up with a house and yard.
And then you made me your heir!” (The Message)
Reflection: Though it is more an interpretation of the Bible than a strict translation of it from the original manuscripts, Eugene Peterson’s The Message occasionally brings helpful insight into familiar, but often hard to understand, verses. These two from Psalm 16 fall into that category for me.
Consider verse 5 in particular. It is both an affirmation of the psalmist’s choice of God (The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup) and of God’s providence (you hold my lot). But Peterson’s language captures the surprise of faith that so many of us have experienced along the way, which is that sometimes, we think we are the ones choosing God, only to find out that it is God who has already chosen us.
I remember being on a prospective student tour at Princeton Seminary when our guide stopped outside of the library and pointed our attention to a stone panel above one of its doors. In the panel was the image of a hand, laid out flat, with the fingers pointing down, as if it were reaching down to the ground. She asked if any of us had seen the symbol before and what we thought it meant. None of us could answer, so she went on to explain that it represented God reaching out to us, and not the other way around. Here we were, a bunch of seminary prospects thinking we were choosing a life with God, and she was reminding us that, before we could ever choose God, God had already reached out to embrace us.
I wonder if you’ve ever had that experience. You think you’re the one choosing God, only to be humbled by realizing that God has already embraced you. That’s grace in a nutshell. The question is, how will you respond with your life?
Prayer: Loving God, thank you for your embracing love, and help me to respond to it by extending gracious love to others. Amen.
Author: Anna Dickson
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].