Apple of the Eye

Guard me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who despoil me, my deadly enemies who surround me.
They close their hearts to pity; with their mouths they speak arrogantly.
They track me down; now they surround me; they set their eyes to cast me to the ground.
They are like a lion eager to tear, like a young lion lurking in ambush.
Rise up, O Lord, confront them, overthrow them! By your sword deliver my life from the wicked,
from mortals—by your hand, O Lord—from mortals whose portion in life is in this world. May their bellies be filled with what you have stored up for them; may their children have more than enough; may they leave something over to their little ones.
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.
—Psalm 17:8-15
As I think about Psalm 17:14, which prays for deliverance from people "whose portion in life is in this world," I am in the middle of reading Johann Hari's Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression—and the Unexpected Solutions. The scriptures repeatedly emphasize some of the same themes Hari addresses—that material values are inferior to spiritual ones; that doing things out of extrinsic motives has no true lasting result—and yet I live in a country where conservative Christians are perhaps the main reason the status quo is what it is: material wealth, coërcive protection, and loss of real community are promoted from the highest levels of church and government.

Lord, make my values your values. Teach me to place my trust in you and to seek community among those who value not things, but people; relationships with those who love your Name more than they desire impressing the shallow. May I understand that to be the apple of your eye—to be loved and blessed by you—is not to have more things, but to find deeper satisfaction in things of eternal worth. Amen.