After the Whirlwind — Readers’ Choice

Readers’ Choice Month:
In August, The Park Forum looks back on our readers’ selections of our most meaningful and helpful devotionals from the past 12 months. Thank you for your readership. This month is all about hearing from you. Submit a Readers’ Choice post today.

Today’s post was originally published, November 2nd, 2020, based on readings from Hosea 8 and Psalm 125.
It was selected by reader, Diane from Corinth, TX
“My prayer has been for all to remember that, no matter who is in the White House, God is on His throne and Christ is still King. Our rights and freedoms do not come from the government, but from the Lord himself. And our marching orders remain the same: Love the Lord and serve Him, Glorify His Name.”

Scripture Focus: Hosea 8.2-4, 7
2 Israel cries out to me, 
‘Our God, we acknowledge you!’ 
3 But Israel has rejected what is good; 
an enemy will pursue him. 
4 They set up kings without my consent; 
they choose princes without my approval. 
With their silver and gold 
they make idols for themselves 
to their own destruction. 

7 “They sow the wind 
and reap the whirlwind. 

Psalm 125.3-5
3 The scepter of the wicked will not remain 
over the land allotted to the righteous, 
for then the righteous might use 
their hands to do evil. 
4 LORD, do good to those who are good, 
to those who are upright in heart. 
5 But those who turn to crooked ways 
the LORD will banish with the evildoers. 
Peace be on Israel. 

Reflection: After the Whirlwind — Readers’ Choice
By John Tillman

I am writing this devotional on Thursday evening October 29th based not on political events (whatever may occur) but on our readings in Hosea. We have been in this section of the Bible for every election week since 2012 when we started following this reading plan.

Not only is this reading plan nothing new, contentiousness in politics is nothing new to the world or to people of faith. The Athenians thought their fellow Greeks in Sparta to be embarrassingly immature in their voting practices. Whereas Athenians (and most Greeks and Romans) voted by show of hands or by secret ballot, the Spartans rejected these. Sparta preferred to vote by which side shouted the loudest. 

Tomorrow’s vote in the United States concludes a Spartan-like election. Shouting is the new norm, even if our actual votes are by secret ballot. 

With the validity of the United States election process being attacked, from within and from without, many fear that careless, vitriolic words from leaders may inspire physical violence that could erupt from either side of our fractured political spectrum. The outcome itself may be delayed longer than impatient partisans will be willing to wait.

To paraphrase Hosea, we have sown the wind with our violent rhetoric and we may reap the whirlwind of violent outcomes.

This week, we will pray for repentance, patience, peace, and faith using the scriptures from our reading plan. We will pray through the closing chapters of Hosea, beginning today in Hosea’s eighth chapter. 

We pray that in every nation, Christians will repent of any political idols we cling to. Our faith in them will only reap the whirlwind. May we place our trust instead in our true and only king.

After the Whirlwind
Oh God, we confess we have sowed the wind
Of idolatry
Of violent words

We fear reaping the whirlwind
Of violence
Of suffering
Of humiliation

Forgive us for rejecting what is good
Forgive us for dehumanizing our brothers and sisters
Forgive us for demanding
Our freedom
Our lusts
Our way

Help us, Lord, to remember
To repent
To soften 
To turn back to you
May we not waste away, crops lost to the storm
May you have mercy on us, redeem us, and replant us
After the whirlwind

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Our God will come and will not keep silence; before him there is a consuming flame, and round about him a raging storm. — Psalm 50.3

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
1 Samuel 2 (Listen – 6:09)
Romans 2 (Listen – 4:13)

Read More about Readers’ Choice 2021
Have we heard from you yet? Tell us about posts from the past year (September 2020 – July 2021) that have helped you in your faith.

Read more about The Language of a Good Neighbor
Where machine-gun-like blasts of vitriol cut through the airwaves, it is only a matter of time before actual bullets fly.

The Garden of Psalm 119

Psalm 119.174-176
I long for your salvation, Lord,
    and your law gives me delight.
Let me live that I may praise you,
    and may your laws sustain me.
I have strayed like a lost sheep.
    Seek your servant,
    for I have not forgotten your commands.

Reflection: The Garden of Psalm 119
By John Tillman

We finish Psalm 119 today and reflect on it with some words from Charles Spurgeon: 

“Those who have studied this divine hymn, and carefully noted each line of it, are amazed at the variety and profundity of the thought…The more you look into this mirror of a gracious heart the more you will see in it.”

Spurgeon is convinced that David wrote the Psalm and if not he, then some other writer who spent long years in its work and created it not over a short span, but through a lifetime of faithfulness.

“There is evident growth in the subject matter. The earlier verses are of such a character as to lend themselves to the hypothesis that the author was a young man, while many of the later passages could only have suggested themselves to age and wisdom.”

In the end, rather than rising in acclaim or celebration, the aged wisdom of the psalmist leads him to a humble and prostrate stance.

“The psalmist is approaching the end of the Psalm…he seems to break into the inner circle of divine fellowship, and to come even to the feet of the great God whose help he is imploring. This nearness creates the most lowly view of himself, and leads him to close the Psalm upon his face in deepest self-humiliation, begging to be sought out like a lost sheep…It is a very sweet thing to a suppliant when he knows of a surety that his prayer has obtained audience. It is to Jehovah that this prayer is expressed with trembling earnestness…we crave audience of none else, for we have confidence in none beside.”

Meditating on Psalm 119 daily has been a common spiritual practice over the centuries and many have reported its wealth of spiritual benefit.

“This sacred ode is a little Bible, the Scriptures condensed, a mass of Bibline, holy writ rewritten in holy emotions and actions. This Psalm, like the whole Scripture which it praises, is a pearl island, or, better still, a garden of sweet flowers.”

It is our hope in each cycle of our two-year-long tread through the garden of scripture to produce not pride, but humility. Not judgmental attitudes, but merciful gratitude. Not clamoring commands for others, but tender notes of correction in our own hearts.

*Quotations abridged from “A Treasury of David,” Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Prayer: The Morning Psalm
For he shall deliver the poor who cries out in distress, and the oppressed who has no helper.
He shall have pity on the lowly and the poor; he shall preserve the lives of the needy.
He shall redeem their lives from oppression and violence, and dear shall their blood be in his sight. — Psalm 72.12-14

– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle.

Today’s Readings
Deuteronomy 33-34 (Listen – 6:35)
Psalm 119:145-176 (Listen – 15:14) 

This Weekend’s Readings
Joshua 1 (Listen – 3:11), Psalm 120-122 (Listen – 2:12) 
Joshua 2 (Listen – 3:49), Psalm 123-125 (Listen – 1:52) 

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Connecting to God’s Word and relying on it for our sustenance, for our source of life, is a consistent theme of scripture and the purpose of spiritual disciplines.

Read more about Setting Aside the Scriptures
The reason that we cannot set aside the Scriptures that we don’t like, is that Scripture must be considered holistically. Each part is bound up with the others for a purpose.