I try to pray through the Psalms regularly, but a while back I noticed that because I am always stopping and restarting, I tend to be passing through the first 20 Psalms much more than the rest of the Psalter. So I decided to try a new approach: to mix up my Psalm reading, I multiply the whatever date it is (month X day) and read that Psalm - if it is over 150, then I subtract 150 and read that one. This means that I am always at a different place in the Psalter. I like the variety this method offers. However, the flaw in my system is that I will never read any Psalms that are prime numbers! So in December, I am going through the list of prime number Psalms. Anyway, I describe all that to show you that it is a bit of a random process, which is why I love it when my Psalm of the Day aligns with what is going on in my life or in the culture. The Holy Spirit is good.
Today is Giving Tuesday, a day meant to be a charitable response to the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I woke up this morning to countless solicitations for donations in my mailbox. It is a bit overwhelming, to be honest. Yet I have friends who are doing very good work, and serving in organizations that are so very needed, and which I am very happy to support. And todays Psalm, Psalm 41, could not be more relevant, as it is both an encouragement and a guide for action.
Blessed is the one who considers the poor! In the day of trouble the Lord delivers him. - Psalm 41:1
Psalm 41 speaks to those who devote themselves to the needs of others, the blessings they receive from such devotion, the opposition they can expect for such devotion, and alludes to Christ, the One who - though rich - become poor for our sake, that we might enjoy all the riches of the Father.
Spurgeon's Commentary was particularly helpful on this day of giving, to remind us that "considering the poor" requires much more from us than sending money their way. "Considering" is an act of love for which the gospel prepares us. Spurgeon draws out for us all that this act of considering entails:
"Such as have been made partakers of divine grace receive a tenderer nature, and are not hardened against their own flesh and blood; they undertake the cause of the downtrodden, and turn their minds seriously to the promotion of their welfare. They do not toss them a penny and go on their way, but enquire into their sorrows, sift out their cause, study the best ways for their relief, and practically come to their rescue: such as these have the mark of the divine favour plainly upon them, and are as surely the sheep of the Lord's pasture as if they wore a brand upon their foreheads." - Treasury of David
Father, may I not be a person who walks briskly by the hurting, or merely writes a check to an organization to appease my conscience, or gives what's in my pockets rather than out of the overflow of my heart. Teach me to walk with the poor, help me to listen as I enquire of their sorrows. Give me wisdom and resources to discern their need and practically help. Above all, remind me that I myself am poor and needy, a sinner in need of your resources and impoverished to your grace. Thank you for your son, who himself lived as one of the poor, who gave his life in generosity and compassion, who himself was betrayed by those who loved money more than the kingdom of God, and who is the sole redeemer, saviour, and judge.