How Are We To Live, Then? Trusting In God Alone.
The greatest misfortune is not sickness or suffering. Rather, the greatest misfortune is to be a sinner. Those who become habituated to selfishness and greed, pride and cruelty, for a time, may appear to prosper, but in reality they are “like the flowers of the field, they will be consumed, they will go up in smoke.” (verse 20) We, on the other hand, are to turn away from sin and toward the Lord, for in doing so we will be able to “dwell in the land forever.” (verse 27)
How are we to live then? The psalmist tells us at the beginning of the prayer that we are not to fret about those who are evil, nor are we to fall into the mistake of envying them. They do not have life in them. We are to “Trust in the Lord” above all else, and out of this trust we are to always try to “do good.” We are to take delight in the Lord and his commandments alone. This is the prescription for eternal life. In this attitude our desires will be proper to those of the Lord. In delighting in the Lord and his commandments the proper and true desires of our hearts will be fulfilled and we will be able to dwell in the Land of the Lord forever.
If we trust in the Lord and commit our lives to his way, he will give us the graces we need to see and to do the good in all things in this life and, even if we suffer as a result, our lives will be vindicated, “like the noonday sun.” (verse 6) How do we find the reasons and the insights to do this in the busy and noisy and distracted realities of our world? Again the psalmist, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit is helpful here. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…” (verse 7) What does this mean? This being still is a good definition of a certain kind of prayer. It is a very intimate kind of prayer. This is the prayer of contemplation. It is the practice of placing ourselves quietly and reverently in the presence of the Lord. It is the practice of listening, rather than that of praising, or giving thanks, or petitioning the Lord earnestly for our needs. The Lord, in his Holy Spirit dwelling within us, is whispering his goodness and his wisdom to us all the time. How often to we take ourselves apart into solitude and silence, simply to listen to the Lord?
This practice of being still before the Lord helps us to develop humility. As the psalmist tells us in this psalm (just as Jesus tells us in his Sermon on the Mount): It is “the meek [that] will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity.” (verse 11) What is the peace and prosperity he is referring to? Is it merely political peace and material prosperity? No. It is the peace that only Christ can give. And our prosperity is not monetary wealth, but the wealth of goodness that we bear in our hearts, minds, bodies and souls. Our wealth is in loving God and our neighbors. Our prosperity is in the happiness that comes from knowing that we have done what is right in the eyes of the Lord. Ultimately, our peace and prosperity cannot be measured by earthly things, rather, it is in God’s love and grace for us here and now, and in heaven, forever.
Lord, may you take delight in our living according to your ways, so that our steps will be made firm this day and all those yet to come. May we be your good and faithful servants loving all others with kindness, mercy and compassion. Strengthen us to recognize and to avoid all that is evil, so that in our meekness we may inherit the eternal joy of being forever in you presence in your heavenly kingdom. We pray, as always, in Jesus’ name. Amen!
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