MY REFUGE AND STRENGTH
Lord, You are my rock.
Read PSALM 71
1 In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame.
2 In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;
turn your ear to me and save me.
3 Be my rock of refuge,
to which I can always go;
give the command to save me,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
4 Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked,
from the grasp of those who are evil and cruel.
5 For you have been my hope, Sovereign Lord,
my confidence since my youth.
6 From birth I have relied on you;
you brought me forth from my mother’s womb.
I will ever praise you.
7 I have become a sign to many;
you are my strong refuge.
8 My mouth is filled with your praise,
declaring your splendor all day long.
9 Do not cast me away when I am old;
do not forsake me when my strength is gone.
10 For my enemies speak against me;
those who wait to kill me conspire together.
11 They say, “God has forsaken him;
pursue him and seize him,
for no one will rescue him.”
12 Do not be far from me, my God;
come quickly, God, to help me.
13 May my accusers perish in shame;
may those who want to harm me
be covered with scorn and disgrace.
14 As for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.
15 My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,
of your saving acts all day long—
though I know not how to relate them all.
16 I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord;
I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.
17 Since my youth, God, you have taught me,
and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.
18 Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your mighty acts to all who are to come.
19 Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,
you who have done great things.
Who is like you, God?
20 Though you have made me see troubles,
many and bitter,
you will restore my life again;
from the depths of the earth
you will again bring me up.
21 You will increase my honor
and comfort me once more.
22 I will praise you with the harp
for your faithfulness, my God;
I will sing praise to you with the lyre,
Holy One of Israel.
23 My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to you—
I whom you have delivered.
24 My tongue will tell of your righteous acts
all day long,
for those who wanted to harm me
have been put to shame and confusion.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
O Lord, You search us and You know us. Nothing is hidden from Your eyes. Have mercy on us, for Jesus’ sake.
A new cycle begins. This chapter is centered around seven angels, seven plagues and seven bowls. It may be helpful to see each cycle as a spiral whose intensity increases every time we start again. The vivid language is meant to wake us up and move us to prayer, action and ultimately reform. We are expected to think in fresh ways, to see the world with fresh eyes, not just to have our curiosity satisfied.
The mention of plagues immediately connects this story with the confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh in Exodus. It is the Red Sea all over again, mirrored in the Christian era. Pharaoh learned that you cannot play around with God. Israel’s redemption from Egypt is a striking visual aid to an understanding of Christ’s redemption. The plagues, the Passover and the crossing of the Red Sea led to a great song of celebration by Moses and Miriam. Now the victorious people of God who have resisted persecution sing praises to the God for whom they forsook Egypt. The song of Moses has become the song of the Lamb and is made up almost completely of Old Testament quotations. Its theme is entirely about the greatness of God. God stands alone, holy and unique, and deserves the glory.
John sees the tabernacle of the temple opened and, from the place where the Law was kept, angels emerge as agents of judgment. Although we instinctively fear judgment, for we know our shortcomings, within us is a desire for justice for our world: for wrongs to be righted and for evil to be dealt with. Justice and judgment are cries of the human heart, and at the right time they will come. These are the last plagues. The time for praying has passed. The trumpets are a warning: God now acts. There will be no access to the temple until this time of divine retribution is completed.
“It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God“ (Heb. 10:31). Watch and pray.
Lord, retribution belongs to You, for You alone are worthy. You are perfectly righteous in all Your judgments.
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