v 6 Many people say, “Who will show us better times?”
Let your face smile on us, Lord.
You have given me greater joy than those who have
abundant harvests of grain and new wine.
We haven’t got an election coming up in the immediate future as far as I know – even although I am writing this just after the day that the Government has survived a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons. But if we had an election this is what many people would be asking – ‘Who will bring us prosperity?’ And the danger is that many of us can get caught up in exactly the same line of thinking. The economy is everything; which party, which policy, will deliver prosperity and make me better off? That same outlook and attitude can so easily shape our prayers.
The psalmist deliberately turns away from that kind of thinking; what he asks for is the smile of God’s face. This is not worldly wealth, but spiritual health!
The psalmist is quite content to let others feel passing satisfaction ‘when their grain and new wine abound’ (v 7); his prayer is ‘Fill my heart with joy’ This is the kind of joy that runs deep and is not dependent on outward circumstances.
Strangely enough, spiritual health and vitality rarely figure directly in our prayers! Issues of physical health, human relationships, material well-being, job success, and perhaps our influence as Christians in the community are the main topics about which we pray. These are all practical matters over which we might feel we can have some control. The significant issues in life run deeper than these seemingly important ones.
Make it your aim in these coming days of Lent to ask for – even long for – something deeper in your own spirit. To experience the light and joy of God’s presence is a greater blessing than anything material can provide.