March 4: A Prayer for Guidance
Numbers 3:40–4:49; John 12:20–50; Psalm 5:1–12
When we feel downtrodden, it’s easy to lash out at those around us. Too often, caught in the injustice of our circumstances, we might begin to feel an unhealthy amount of self-justification. It’s difficult to see where the lines of right and wrong fall when anger and hurt overwhelm us.
The psalmist presents an alternative to this: turning to the God of justice for guidance, protection, and insight. Psalm 5 records a heartfelt cry. This cry is directed at the God who acts justly in a world where evil seems to win (something not always easy to comprehend). Before making a judgment, the psalmist says, “I will set forth my case to you and I will watch” (Psa 5:3). Rather than push forward with his own agenda, he calls out for God’s justice because Yahweh is “not a God who desires wickedness” (Psa 5:4).
The psalmist acknowledges God’s sovereignty and love, which is the basis for his confidence: “through the abundance of your steadfast love I will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in awe of you” (Psa 5:7). Before calling out the evil actions of his enemies, he prays for direction: “lead me in your righteousness because of my enemies; make straight before me your way” (Psa 5:8). The psalmist prays; then, he acts with God’s justice in view.
In John 12, Jesus states that utter and complete devotion to God and His kingdom should be the focus of our lives: “Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor” (John 12:25–26).
How can you pray for guidance in a world that often seems cold and uncaring? How can you trust God to lead you to act in ways that please Him?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- And the Lord said unto Moses, Number all the firstborn that are males among the children of Israel from a month old and above, and take the number of their names. And thou shalt take the Levites to me for all the firstborn of the children of Israel (I am the Lord) and the cattle of the Levites for all the firstborn of the cattle of the children of Israel. And Moses numbered, as the Lord commanded him, all the firstborn of the children of Israel. And all the firstborn males rehearsed by name (from a month old an above) according to their number were two and twenty thousand, two hundred seventy three. And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying, Take the Levites for all the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites for the cattle, and the Levites shall be mine, (I am the Lord.) And for the redeeming of the two hundred seventy and three, (which are more than the Levites) of the firstborn of the children of Israel, Thou shalt also take five shekels for ever person: after the weight of the Sanctuary shalt thou take it: the shekel containeth twenty gerahs. And thou shalt give the money, wherewith the odd number of them is redeemed, unto Aaron and to his sons. Thus Moses took the redemption of them that were redeemed, being more than the Levites: Of the firstborn of the children of Israel took the money: even a thousand three hundred three score and five shekels, after the shekel of the Sanctuary. And Moses gave the money of them that were redeemed, unto Aaron and to his sons according to the word of the Lord, as the Lord had commanded Moses. And the Lord spake unto Moses, and to Aaron, saying, Take the sum of the sons of Kohath from among the sons of Levi, after their families, and houses of their fathers, From thirty years old and above, even until fifty years old all that enter into the assembly to do the work in the Tabernacle of Congregation. This shall be the office of the sons of Kohath in the Tabernacle of the Congregation about the holiest of all. When the host removeth, the Aaron and his sons shall come and take down the covering veil, and shall cover the Ark of the Testimony therewith. And they shall put thereon a covering of badger’s skins, and shall spread upon it a cloth altogether of blue silk, and put to the bars thereof: And upon the table of show bread, they shall spread a cloth of blue silk, and put thereon the dishes, and the incense cups and goblets, and coverings and cover it with, and the bread shall be thereon continually. And they shall spread upon them a covering of scarlet, and cover the same with a covering of badger’s skins, to put bars thereof. And they shall spread upon them a covering of scarlet, and cover the same with a covering of badger’s skins, and put to the bars thereof. Then they shall take a cloth of blue silk, and cover the candlestick of light with his lamps, and his snuffers, and his snuffdishes, and all the oil vessels thereof, which they occupy about it. So they shall put it, and all the instruments thereof in a covering of badger’s skins, and put it upon the bars. Also upon the golden altar they shall spread a cloth of blue silk, and cover it with a covering of badger’s skin, and put to the bars thereof. And they shall spread a cloth of blue silk, and cover them with a covering of badger’s skins, and put them on the bars. Also they shall put upon it all the instruments thereof, which they occupy about it, the censers, the fleshhooks,and the besoms, and the basins, even all the instruments of the altar: and they shall spread upon it a covering of badger’s skins, and put to the bars of it. And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of the covering of the Sanctuary, and all the instruments of the Sanctuary, at the removing of the host, afterward the sons of Kohath shall come to bear it, but they shall not touch any holy thing lest they die. This is the charge of the sons of Kohath in the Tabernacle of the Congregation. And to the office of Eleazar the son of Aaron the Priest pertaineth the oil for the light, and the sweet incense, and the daily meat offering, and the anointing oil with the oversight of all the Tabernacle, and of all that therein is, both in the Sanctuary, and in all the instruments thereof. And th Lord spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying, Ye shall not cut off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites: But thus do unto them that they may live and not die, when they come near to the most holy things: let Aaron and his sons come and appoint them, every one to his office, and to his charge. But let them not go in, to see when the Sanctuary is folden up, lest they die. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Take also the sum of the sons of Gershon, every one by the houses of their fathers, throughout their families: From thirty years old and above until fifty years old shalt thou number them, all that enter into the assembly for to do service in the Tabernacle of the Congregation. At the commandment of Aaron and his sons shall all the service of the sons of the Gershonites be done, in all their charges and in all their service, and ye shall appoint them to keep all their charges. This is the service of the families of the sons of the Gershonites in the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and their watch shall be under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the Priests. Thou shalt number the sons of Merari by their families, and by the houses of their fathers. From thirty years old and above, even unto fifty years old shalt thou number them, all that enter into the assembly, to do the service of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. And this is their office and charge according to all their service in the Tabernacle of Congregation: the boards of the Tabernacle with the bars thereof, and his pillars, and his sockets. And the pillars round about the court, with their sockets and their pins, and their cords with all their instruments, even for all their service: and by name ye shall reckon the instruments, even all their service: and by name ye shall reckon the instruments of their office and charge. This is the service of the families of the sons Merari, according to all their service in the Tabernacle of the Congregation under the hand of Ithamar the son of Aaron the Priest. Then Moses and Aaron and the princes of the Congregation numbered the sons of the Kohathites, by their families, and by the houses of their fathers. From thirty years old and above, even unto fifty years old, all that enter into the assembly for the service of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. So the numbers of them throughout their families were two thousand, seven hundred and fifty. These are the numbers of the families of the Kohathites, all that serve in the Tabernacle of the Congregation, which Moses and Aaron did number according to the commandment of the Lord by the hand of Moses. Also the numbers of the sons of Gershon throughout their families and houses of their fathers, From thirty years old and upward, even unto fifty years old: all that enter into the service of the Tabernacle of the Congregation. So the numbers of them by their families, and by the houses of their fathers were two thousand six hundred and thirty. (Numbers 3:40–4:49)
- Now there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast. And they came to Philip, which was of Bethsaida in Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see that Jesus. Philip came and told Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip told Jesus. And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man must be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except the wheat corn fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life, shall lose it, and he that hateth his life in this world, shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me: for where I am, there shall my servant be: and if any man serve me, him will my father honor. Now is my soul troubled: and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but therefore came I unto this hour. Father, glorify thy Name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. Then said the people that stood by, and heard, that it was a thunder: others said, An Angel spake unto him. Jesus answered, and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I were lift up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. Now this said he, signifying the death he should die. The people answered him, We have heard out of the Law, that that Christ bideth forever: and how sayest thou, that that Son of man must be lift up? Who is that Son of man? Then Jesus said unto him, Yet a little while is the light with you: walk while ye have that light, lest the darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in the dark, knowth not whither he goeth. While ye have the light, believe in that light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and hid himself from them. And though he had done so many miracles before them, yet believed they not on him, That the saying of Isaiah the Prophet might be fulfilled, that he said, Lord, who believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? Therefore could they not believe, because that Isaiah saith again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart, that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. Nevertheless, even among chief rulers, many believed in him: but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be cast out of the Synagogue. For they loved the praise of men, more than the praise of God. And Jesus cried, and said, He that believeth in me, believeth in him that sent me. And he that seeth me, seeth him that sent me. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth in me, should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that refuseth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, it shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself: but the father which sent me, he gave me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: the things therefore that I speak, I speak them so as the Father said unto me . (John 12:20–50)
- Hear my words, O Lord: understand my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my king and my God: for unto thee do I pray. Hear my voice in the morning, O Lord: for in the morning will I direct me unto thee, and I will wait. For thou art not a God that loveth wickedness, neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: for thou hatest all them that work iniquity. Thou shalt destroy them that speak lies: the Lord will abhor the bloody man and deceitful. But I will come into thine house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thine holy Temple. Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness, because of mine enemies: make thy way plain before my face. For no constancy is their mouth: within they are very corruption: their throat is an open sepulcher, and they flatter with their tongue. Destroy them, O God, let them all from their counsels: cast them out for the multitude of their iniquities, because they have rebelled against thee. For thou Lord, wilt bless the righteous, and with favor wilt compass him, as with a shield. (Psalm 5:1–12)