Thoughts for Thursday 20th August 2020

Psalm 124; Genesis 49:1-33; 1 Corinthians 6:1-11


Thursday 20 August


Psalm 124 is both pithy and memorable, and one of the images that makes it so is that of a hunter’s trap. I often wonder what more modern imagery Biblical authors might use were they to be writing the psalms today. Claiming at the outset to be a ‘Psalm of David’, although we ourselves don’t often see hunter’s traps in normal everyday life these days, we do still understand their use as a metaphor for all sorts of situations we find ourselves in from time to time.


Just one of these, for example, is making promises we then find ourselves unable, for whatever reason, to then keep (see Proverbs 6:5). And we can all think of other traps we, or people who are well known to us, have fallen in to, and long to be sprung from.


I’m both amused and appalled by our Old Testament reading from Genesis, and by the brutal honesty of a father who can point up so many faults in his children. Some of them get off quite lightly, but at least half of them will, I suspect, have found these so-called ‘blessings’ excruciatingly painful. Reuben, for example, is reminded that he slept with his father’s concubine; Simeon and Levi that they crippled bulls for sport; Judah that his eyes are bloodshot from drinking wine; Issachar that he is forced to work as a slave; Dan that he is a poisonous snake beside the path; and Benjamin that he is like a vicious wolf!!!


All of which reminds me of the poem, Children Learn What they Live by Dorothy Nolte (1972):


If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with 
fear, they learn to be apprehensive.
If children live with pity, they learn to feel sorry for themselves.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to feel 
If children live with 
jealousy, they learn to feel envy.
If children live with 
shame, they learn to feel guilty.
If children live with encouragement, they learn 
If children live with tolerance, they learn patience.
If children live with praise, they learn appreciation.
If children live with acceptance, they learn to love.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with recognition, they learn it is good to have a goal.
If children live with sharing, they learn 
If children live with honesty, they learn truthfulness.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with kindness and consideration, they learn respect.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith in themselves and in those about them.
If children live with friendliness, they learn the world is a nice place in which to live.


Despite his eyes, Judah’s ‘blessing’ is one of the better ones, and it’s through his lineage that both David and Jesus were born (see Matthew 1 and Luke 3) Referred to here as ‘like a lion’, this motif is then picked up by John of the Apocalypse, and used in Rev 5:5 for Christ himself.


Let us pray (by Martin Fair):


Good and gracious God, we have climbed and have reached the top.

We have set out and have arrived. We have aimed and have hit our targets.


When all goes well, when the sun is high, we praise you.


And then at other times, we have set out but got lost.

We’ve put our boots on the hillside but have run out of energy and have had to turn back, disappointed - a feeling of failure dampening our spirits.


When it doesn’t work out, when the sun is hidden, still we praise you.


Sometimes we get to look but not to touch.

Sometimes we get to walk but only in the valleys, the high places denied to us.

Sometimes we reach summit cairns but find that the mist obscures our view entirely.

Sometimes we see everything and yet find that it is not ours to have - a promised land that will be for others but for us, only a distant horizon.


When certain of your promises remain, for us, unfulfilled, still we praise you.


Go in the strength of the Lord,

In paths he has marked for your feet;

Follow the light of his word,

Shrink not from the dangers you meet.

His presence your steps shall attend,

His fulness your wants shall supply;

On him, still your journey shall end,

Unwavering faith shall rely,



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