Click on the link for the Psalm above (my links show up as red words) or find it in your favorite Bible or digital Bible or listen to Psalm :
Bonus: The Lord’s Prayer is about the amount of time you need for hand scrubbing 😉
Breath Prayer: I am including breath prayers because this is the practice that I engage in most often. Sometimes, I simply manage my breathing as I would when I was singing as a warmup and strengthening exercise. This practice helps me to feel centered, strong, and connected with myself and the divine. Sometimes, I add words or intentions for the inhalation and exhalation.
No amount of toilet paper will stop us from getting COVID-19. We all know that. And yet, our impulse to hoard, to stock up, to make sure we have extra drives us to the store to fight with our panicked neighbors. The wealthy (or those willing to go into credit card debt) can buy in bulk. Somehow that makes them seem safer; secure in the thought that stuff will insulate us from whatever murder hornet is coming. Our animal nature or at least our older part of our brain that controls our fight/flight/freeze response is being stimulated to greed by an economy that tells us the more we own the more we can control. And control is power, maybe even god-like. The truth is that we can not Clorox wipe away everything that frightens us. The elixir of life can not be found in the sour dough bread starter. Wealth, status, and power will not keep us from experiencing pain, heartache, or death. So, when I get worked up about all of this, I take a moment to breath. Breath in, God is God. Breath out, I am not God. Breath in, God is in control. Breath out, I am not. Thanks be to God. For me, there is something centering and calming about breathing. Allowing my focus to shift away from myself and towards God is comforting. I find that I am somehow more content and even grateful. I am connected to the eternal God, she chooses to dwell with me. There is nothing more permanent than my connection to her; not even death can separate me from the love of God. It makes the mountain of toilet paper in my basement seem really foolish. I have enough; more than enough. And honestly, I could use a wash cloth and live without it. I hope my neighbor has enough; more than enough too. And if she doesn’t, I have plenty to share. My faith leads me to gratitude and generosity. Thanks be to God.
Let us pray:
I encourage you to pray a breath prayer. You can pick a word or two that you want to fill you and a word or phrase that you want to leave you. Fill yourself with air and goodness. Exhale and blow away what you don’t want to dwell on. Read through the examples below. Don’t forget to breath.
Breath in contentment and gratitude. Breath out fear that leads to greed.
Breath in, God lead me toward gratitude. Breath out, God lead me away from greed. Breath in, God give me courage. Breath out, God take away anxiety.
Ok, everyone take a deep breath. Breath in. Breath out. Breath in gratitude. Breath out greed. Repeat as needed.
My Sources and Notes:
Craigie, Peter C. 1983. Psalms 1-50–Word Biblical Commentary. Vol. 19. Waco, TX: Word Books.
Keck, Leander E. 2015. The New Interpreters Bible Commentary. Vol. 3. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.
NIB: “If the answer to the riddle [vs. 3-4] is contained in the refrain [v.12 and v.20], then we can state the riddle as follows: How are human begins and animals alike? The answer is basic to the psalmists message about relating to wealth and to God.” p. 441
Word Biblical Commentary: vs. 12 and 20 are slightly different. See NIV translation. Verse 12 “survive” and verse 20 “understand”. Verse 12 the rich and powerful do not have an advantage when facing death. Verse 20, “The real folly of the wealthy and powerful is their failure to “understand”; in failing to understand fully the dimensions of death, it is inevitable that they also failed t to understand fully the dimensions of life.” p. 360
NIB: “The affirmation that the power of God is finally greater than the power of Sheol is a departure from the usual Israelite view of life and death. While v. 15 probably does not represent a developed doctrine of resurrection or afterlife, it certainly does, like Psalm 22:29, push beyond the normal limits (see also Ps 16:10-11). The psalmist trusts that nothing not even death, will finally be all to separate the faithful from God (see Rom 8:38-39; 14:7-8).” p. 442
NIB: “The answer to the riddle has been given a twist. To be like the animals finally means to fail to understand, and thus to die without hope. The wise, who know what the psalmist has affirmed (v. 15) and who entrust themselves to God, will die with the assurance that the power of God is greater than etc power of death.” p. 442
NIB: “…our economy aims not to meet people’s needs but to stimulate people’s greed. …. …the very success of our economic system subtly tempts us to seek security in our wealth; in effect, we become our own gods.” p. 442
NIB: “Life is not a prize to be earned or another possession not be bought. Rather, it is a gift to be received (see Mark 8:36-37). The good news of Psalm 49 and the Gospel is that God wills that we live, so much so that Christians profess that God has paid the price by sending Jesus Christ “to give his life as the ransom for many” (Mark 10:45 NRSV; see 1Tim2:6). Those who enter the reign of God will live not by greed but by gratitude; they will live in the assurance that the exalted are humbled, and the humble are exalted (see Luke 18:14); they will see in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the ultimate embodiment of the affirmation of Ps 49:15 that the power of God is greater than the power of death. True wealth is the wisdom that understands that God is the only giver and ultimate guarantor of life.” p. 443
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Other Year D Psalm blog posts:
I’m attempting a series exploring the Psalms in year D. Many churches use the revised common lectionary that rotates scripture on a three-year cycle (A, B, and C). Year D was created with the goal of including scriptures that were left out or not used as frequently as others.
I began this series in Lent 2020. These blog posts include examples of meditation or spiritual discipline or mindfulness exercises. Here are the links: Ash Wednesday: Psalm 102; 1st Sunday in Lent: Psalm 6; 2nd Sunday in Lent: Psalm 143; 3rd Sunday in Lent: Psalm 38; 4th Sunday in Lent: Psalm 39; 5th Sunday in Lent: Psalm 101; 6th Sunday in Lent Psalm 94 or Psalm 35. I went a different direction during Holy Week and dropped the Psalms for a while, but I’m hoping to pick them back up again.
I’m going to try to move forward with the Psalms so that it might be useful for worship in the coming weeks and hoping that I can also go back and pick up some of the ones I missed.
The Season of Easter: Resurrection of the Lord (Easter) Psalm 71:15-24 or Psalm 75 or Psalm 76, 2nd Sunday in Easter Psalm 64 or Psalm 119:73-96, 3rd Sunday in Easter Psalm 60 or 108, 4th Sunday in Easter Psalm 10, 5th Sunday in Easter Psalm 49: (1-12) 13-20, 6thSunday in Easter Psalm 129, Ascension Thursday Psalm 119:145-176, 7th Sunday in Easter Psalm 115, and Pentecost Sunday Psalm 119:113-136.