34:1 “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall ever be in my mouth. 2 I will glory in the Lord; let the humble hear and rejoice. 3 Proclaim with me the greatness of the Lord; let us exalt his name together. 4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me out of all my terror. 5 Look upon him and be radiant, and let not your faces be ashamed. 6 I called in my affliction, and the Lord heard me and saved me from all my troubles. 7 The angel of the Lord encompasses those who fear him, and he will deliver them. 8 Taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are they who trust in him! 9 Fear the Lord, you that are his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. 10 The young lions lack and suffer hunger, but those who seek the Lord lack nothing that is good. 11 Come, children, and listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the Lord. 12 Who among you loves life and desires long life to enjoy prosperity? 13 Keep your tongue from evil-speaking and your lips from lying words. 14 Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. 15 The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their cry. 16 The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to root out the remembrance of them from the earth. 17 The righteous cry, and the Lord hears them and delivers them from all their troubles. 18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and will save those whose spirits are crushed. 19 Many are the troubles of the righteous, but the Lord will deliver him out of them all. 20 He will keep safe all his bones; not one of them shall be broken. 21 Evil shall slay the wicked, and those who hate the righteous will be punished. 22 The Lord ransoms the life of his servants, and none will be punished who trust in him.
– Psalm 34:1-22 LBW
Psalm 34 is a psalm of thanksgiving for deliverance. It is rare psalm in that we are given the direct context: this is a song of David when he pretended to be insane before Achish, the Abimelech (or King) of the Philistines in Gath (see 1 Samuel 21). In the Psalm, we note that although David literally acted like a madman to get out of a tricky situation, he recognized here in his prayer that the true deliverance and salvation from his enemies came at the hands of the Lord. There are three unique Messianic lines in this psalm that should fill our hearts with joy:
- “Taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are they who trust in him” (v. 8)! Calling upon the numerous stories in the biblical tradition, David is emphasizing that the Lord is the sustenance for His people, the One who gives them nourishment through Himself as food and drink. In our Genesis passage today, we read that Joseph’s family is cared for by the Lord in the midst of famine, and even after terrible events of calamity in Joseph’s life which sent him to Egypt, he tells his brothers that the Lord used them for good. Over four hundred years later, after God’s people leave Egypt with Moses, the Lord gives them their “daily bread” of manna from heaven to sustain them. All of these emphasize that God is the source of our life and existence, and we can trust in Him to sustain us. They also foreshadow the Eucharist, where Jesus gives His own body and blood as nourishment for His people in the bread and wine.
- “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and will save those whose spirits are crushed” (v. 18). The only other time we read similar words are in Isaiah 61 — a prophecy about the coming mission of the Lord’s “Anointed One” (“Messiah” or “Christ”) — and in Luke 4, where Jesus states in His very first sermon in the synagogue that He is this Anointed One who has come to “heal the brokenhearted” (v. 18; kjv).
- “He will keep safe all his bones; not one of them shall be broken” (v. 20). While the Lord is near to the brokenhearted, His Anointed One will suffer greatly but not have a single bone broken. During the first Passover meal, the Lord instructed Moses to sacrifice a lamb, but not to break a single bone in the sacrifice (Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12). Much later, when Jesus dies on the cross, it is the Roman practice to break the legs of those being crucified to speed up their deaths (this is done to the two thieves crucified with Christ), but as Jesus was already dead, they did not break any of his bones. John tells us explicitly that this was done to fulfill the Messianic prophecy found here in Psalm 34: Jesus, the Anointed One, is the true Passover Lamb who guides His people from death into life (John 19:33-36). In the Lutheran tradition, this is why we explicitly follow Jesus’ practice and His words when He breaks bread, but gives His body by saying, “This is my body, given for you,” during the Eucharist (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:24). This is a great celebration of His victory over sin, death, and the devil! Even more incredible, note that He did this for you!
As we reflect on the astonishing depths of meaning found in Psalm 34, and we continue to journey through Lent on our way towards Holy Week and Easter, let us prepare to rejoice with Paul words in our 1 Corinthians reading today, “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (vv. 7-8).
Prayer: “Lord, graciously hear us, for we seek you alone. Calm our bodies and minds with the peace which passes understanding, and make us radiant with joy; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen” (Lutheran Book of Worship).
Devotion written by the Rev. Andrew S. Ames Fuller
Genesis 42:1–17 (Listen)
Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt
42:1 When Jacob learned that there was grain for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you look at one another?” 2 And he said, “Behold, I have heard that there is grain for sale in Egypt. Go down and buy grain for us there, that we may live and not die.” 3 So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. 4 But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with his brothers, for he feared that harm might happen to him. 5 Thus the sons of Israel came to buy among the others who came, for the famine was in the land of Canaan.
6 Now Joseph was governor over the land. He was the one who sold to all the people of the land. And Joseph’s brothers came and bowed themselves before him with their faces to the ground. 7 Joseph saw his brothers and recognized them, but he treated them like strangers and spoke roughly to them. “Where do you come from?” he said. They said, “From the land of Canaan, to buy food.” 8 And Joseph recognized his brothers, but they did not recognize him. 9 And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed of them. And he said to them, “You are spies; you have come to see the nakedness of the land.” 10 They said to him, “No, my lord, your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all sons of one man. We are honest men. Your servants have never been spies.”
12 He said to them, “No, it is the nakedness of the land that you have come to see.” 13 And they said, “We, your servants, are twelve brothers, the sons of one man in the land of Canaan, and behold, the youngest is this day with our father, and one is no more.” 14 But Joseph said to them, “It is as I said to you. You are spies. 15 By this you shall be tested: by the life of Pharaoh, you shall not go from this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 Send one of you, and let him bring your brother, while you remain confined, that your words may be tested, whether there is truth in you. Or else, by the life of Pharaoh, surely you are spies.” 17 And he put them all together in custody for three days.
1 Corinthians 5:1–8 (Listen)
Sexual Immorality Defiles the Church
5:1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. 2 And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.
3 For though absent in body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. 4 When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
6 Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? 7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Mark 3:19–35 (Listen)
19 and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
20 Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”
Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit
22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.” 23 And he called them to him and said to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but is coming to an end. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house.
28 “Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”—30 for they were saying, “He has an unclean spirit.”
Jesus’ Mother and Brothers
31 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” 33 And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” 34 And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
Psalm 34 (Listen)
Taste and See That the Lord Is Good
Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech, so that he drove him out, and he went away.
34:1 I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
9 Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
11 Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
21 Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The LORD redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.
Psalm 146 (Listen)
Put Not Your Trust in Princes
146:1 Praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD, O my soul!
2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
3 Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
4 When his breath departs, he returns to the earth;
on that very day his plans perish.
5 Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the LORD his God,
6 who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
7 who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets the prisoners free;
8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind.
The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.
9 The LORD watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
10 The LORD will reign forever,
your God, O Zion, to all generations.
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 25 (Listen)
Teach Me Your Paths
25:1 To you, O LORD, I lift up my soul.
2 O my God, in you I trust;
let me not be put to shame;
let not my enemies exult over me.
3 Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame;
they shall be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.
4 Make me to know your ways, O LORD;
teach me your paths.
5 Lead me in your truth and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all the day long.
6 Remember your mercy, O LORD, and your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old.
7 Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
according to your steadfast love remember me,
for the sake of your goodness, O LORD!
8 Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
9 He leads the humble in what is right,
and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness,
for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.
11 For your name’s sake, O LORD,
pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who is the man who fears the LORD?
Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.
13 His soul shall abide in well-being,
and his offspring shall inherit the land.
14 The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him,
and he makes known to them his covenant.
15 My eyes are ever toward the LORD,
for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are enlarged;
bring me out of my distresses.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
and forgive all my sins.
19 Consider how many are my foes,
and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me!
Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
for I wait for you.
22 Redeem Israel, O God,
out of all his troubles.
Psalm 91 (Listen)
My Refuge and My Fortress
91:1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
5 You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.
9 Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.
14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”
This daily prayer and Bible reading guide, Devoted to Prayer (based on Acts 2:42), was conceived and prepared by the Rev. Andrew S. Ames Fuller, director of communications for the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). After a challenging year in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been provided with a unique opportunity to revitalize the ancient practice of daily prayer and Scripture reading in our homes. While the Reading the Word of God three-year lectionary provided a much-needed and refreshing calendar for our congregations to engage in Scripture reading, this calendar includes a missing component of daily devotion: prayer. This guide is to provide the average layperson and pastor with the simple tools for sorting through the busyness of their lives and reclaiming an act of daily discipleship with their Lord. The daily readings follow the Lutheran Book of Worship two-year daily lectionary, which reflect the church calendar closely. The commemorations are adapted from Philip H. Pfatteicher’s New Book of Festivals and Commemorations, a proposed common calendar of the saints that builds from the Lutheran Book of Worship, but includes saints from many of those churches in ecumenical conversation with the NALC. The introductory portion is adapted from Christ Church (Plano)’s Pray Daily. Our hope is that this calendar and guide will provide new life for congregations learning and re-learning to pray in the midst of a difficult and changing world.