Scripture Focus: Deuteronomy 10.16, 21
16 do not be stiff-necked any longer…21 He is the one you praise; he is your God.

Reflection: Stubborn Praise
By Jane Schaible

We know the story of grumbling Israel. Generations were stiff-necked and stubborn. Their ancestors were known as the ultimate complainers. They were grumblers who often failed to praise God. They had hearts that were headstrong and contrary. We read about them and sigh, thinking, “Again, Israel?”

But we need to be fair here. Before completely condemning them, we should take a moment for self-reflection. Are we really that much “above” the ultimate complainers? 

I’ll confess something to you. I’m probably one of the most critical, stubborn, stiff-necked people you’ll ever meet. And usually proud of it. 

In these moments of self-glorying pride, my eyes land on God’s unchanging words – “do not be stiff-necked any longer.”

When I read them, I get a wee bit squeamish. I can’t take my eyes away from them and I begin to self-doubt. I reluctantly ask myself, has the condition of my headstrong, contrary, stiff-necked heart kept me from praise?

Yes. Yes, I admit that it has.

He is the one I should praise. He is the one I want to praise. He is the one I long to praise. He is the one I gladly praise. That is when I do praise. 

Too often I have stubbornly allowed my prideful heart to guide how I respond to his great wonders. I have been stiff-necked even in my praise. 

Instead of being stubbornly proud, I want to be stubbornly humble. I long for the strong determination in me to fuel praise, rather than complaint.   

Scripture reminds me that God has done his great wonders and gives his words for our own good (Deuteronomy 10.13). These wonders and words of deliverance, grace, affection, and love renew my stubborn ways. They open up my heart and my mouth towards a new kind of stubbornness, one that is stubbornly determined to lift my voice up to him always.

Oh Lord, your mercy is great, and your grace is abundant. I praise you because you are the faithful, committed, loving God, who set his affection on me and my sisters and my brothers. You are the mighty and awesome God who delivers me in my weakness by the strength of your Son. You are the one who saved me and gave me your living word (John 1:14). You have been the determined one.

You, you alone are the one I praise, you alone are my God.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Sing praise to the Lord who dwells in Zion; proclaim to the peoples the things he has done. — Psalm 9.11 – From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 10 (Listen 3:12)
2 Corinthians 4 (Listen 3:02)

Read more about Grumbling and Doubt
Even great leaders grumble. Leaders are prone to doubt, discontentment, and grumbling just as much as followers.

Read more about Complaints and Responses
When the reality of our world does not match the promises of God, complaint can be a spiritual practice rather than a sin.