Saturday, February 4, 2023

Hopeful Attentiveness - Lesson from Psalm 61 (62)

Spiritually seek the condition where your soul is ever attentive to the will of God, aware of His love for us, and with the aim to be perfected in His image.  In Psalm 61 (62) David prays that his soul be submissive to God, because he knows that this necessary for our salvation. He recognizes God as his savior and protector. He realizes that with his firm faith all the trials and tribulations he faces will be overcome. This is what we too are to seek. We need a soul that is attentive to the will of God if we have the hope of following Him and being united with Him in eternal life.

1 For the End, for Jeduthun; a psalm by David.
2 Shall not my soul be submissive to God?
For from Him is my salvation.
3 For He is my God and my savior,
My protector; I shall be shaken no more.
David also wonders how long he will have to struggle. For us this struggle is an everyday issue. We must resist the norms of our current worldly society. Following worldly advice we can damage and even kill the soul in us. We will be praised for accomplishments that have nothing to do with our salvation. We may begin to think these achievements are what is most important, forgetting the commandments that God has laid down for us. This attack will continue throughout our life. We must learn to be attentive.
4 How long will you attack a man?
All of you murder him;
You attack him as you would a leaning wall and a broken hedge.
5 They also planned to remove my honor;
They ran with a lie;
They blessed with their mouth, and they cursed with their heart. (Pause)
David begs that his soul be submissive to God. What God can give us is patient endurance. This can come through prayer, participation in the sacraments, understanding God’s teaching and following the guidelines of His Church. In this way we will receive grace to necessary to endure the many misleading forces we encounter. 
6 However, be submissive to God, O my soul,
For my patient endurance is from Him.
This begins by recognizing the Truth that it is God who can save us. It is through His power that we can resist the worldly temptations, and become able to resist norms that go against what God desires. With unwavering faith we can protect our soul. God in His love can protect us and give us the necessary strength to overcome all the temptations of this worldly life.
7 For He is my God and my savior,
My protector; I shall never be moved.
8 In God is my salvation and my glory;
He is the God of my help, and my hope is in God.
9 Hope in Him, all you congregation of people;
Pour out your hearts before Him;
God is our helper. (Pause)
Beware of those who do not share your faith. Beware of what others tell you is important for your success. Beware of self-help programs devoid of faith. Beware of all forces that try to get you to conform to the wiles of this world.
10 But the sons of men are useless;
The sons of men are liars with the yokes of wrongdoing;
They are altogether useless.
11 Do not hope in wrongdoing,
And do not hunger for booty;
If riches flow in,
Do not set your heart on them.
Remember always that God is unconditional love and all merciful. No matter how many times we fall because of the numerous temptations we will face in this life, he is waiting for our repentance with open arms, just like in the story of the Prodigal Son. From the time of our baptism God is in us. His power is ours if we are willing to seek it. In the end we will be judged based on how well we have used our free will, how well we were able to follow what He created us to be and do. Draw on His strength to follow Him alone! In this way you will be saved.
12 God spoke once;
I heard these two things:
13 That power is of God, and to You, O Lord, is mercy;
For You will repay every man according to his works.
It is necessary for us to stay on a path where we are ever searching for God’s direction. We must be patient and careful waiting for Him to act within us. If we continually are looking for salvation, for eternal life united with Him, we will find the peace we seek, a peace that cannot be found following worldly wisdom. Human power and wealth have no significance unless it is united with the will of God.

Because of our weakness, our need for affirmation of others, our self centeredness, the path we must endure is very difficult. The key is to continually struggle, improving bit by bit, and calling on the Holy Spirt to help us in all things. Develop a regular prayer lie, participate regularly in the sacraments of the Church, read a little Scripture everyday along with the writings of the Church fathers, seek fellowship among those who share your faith, and avoid others who have little regard for Scriptural teachings. 

Following a way of life prescribed by our Orthodox Church your soul will be continually nurtured. You will grow spiritually. This is the path toward salvation that God has blessed us with. Follow it!

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