Happy are those who consider the poor; the LORD delivers them in the day of trouble (v. 1).
Like other psalms, this one emerges from the depths of ancient history to offer a testimony that resounds through the ages. Devout Hebrew farmers recited this psalm. Countless barefooted children learned it. It’s been sung in stone cathedrals. Its lines still comfort weary mothers. The psalmist wrote it long before the Industrial Revolution, before electricity was discovered, before the Enlightenment or the destruction of the Temple, before the Messiah told the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Its words weave through time and space to reach us.
As I reflect today, the first verse seems especially ironic. My job in Morocco is to serve with the local church in ministering to the most vulnerable refugees and migrants in our country. I spent four hours today hearing updates about the devastating situation on the ground. People are truly suffering and our ability to respond is limited. The reality we face is depressing, frustrating, and desperate. Considering the plight of the impoverished is exhausting. Staring into the face of suffering doesn’t make me happy, as the psalmist says.
I don’t think the psalmist intends this to be a theological treatise or answer to all the complicated questions concerning pain and suffering. Instead, this text offers a testimony, a living witness to the truth that Eternal God has compassion for the poor and weak who suffer. Caring for the hurting pleases Almighty God to the point that God blesses those who help in such holy work. Through the ages, faith communities have discovered this truth of God’s blessing as they live out this mission. This beautiful testimony of God’s favor offers a gift that we sometimes need our ancestors in the faith to help us understand.
How have you been blessed by sharing in God’s care for the suffering?
God, thank you for making us part of your work and blessing us by teaching us to bless others. Amen.