Psalm 31. Redefining Sainthood.

Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 31. (MsgB)

Love God, all you saints; God takes care of all who stay close to Him,
But He pays back in full those arrogant enough to go it alone.

Be brave. Be strong. Don’t give up. Expect God to get here soon.

Over the centuries, sainthood has been defined in a variety of ways.

Most dictionaries state that a saint is one who has been recognized for having an exceptional degree of holiness, sanctity, and virtue. In Catholicism, sainthood is defined by using a long shopping list of holy activity that emanates from a person’s life. That list can include things like 1) being an exemplary model to others; 2) being an extraordinary teacher; 3) being a miracle worker or a source of benevolent power; 4) being an intercessor, living a life of refusing material attachments or comforts; and 5) having possession of a special and revelatory relationship to the Holy. Of course, one added touch to this illustrious list is this. If you hope to be canonized as a saint, you have to be dead first.


The New Testament actually takes a much simpler approach to sainthood. One that, to me, better represents what King David might have had in mind when he sang out his 31st Psalm.  The NT Greek word for saint is ‘hagios’ and it simply meant to be ‘set apart’ or ‘dedicated or securely aligned with God’. The word ‘hagios’ is used over 200 times in the NT so it certainly had some weight when it came to defining sainthood for those following Jesus in the first century.

Being a simple man, I kinda like King David’s definition found here at the end of Psalm 31.

First and foremost, a saint, according to David, is one who simply stays close to God. David finishes his sentence by giving us a colorful definition of one who is not a saint. Apparently, from God’s perspective, a non-saint is one who, in their great arrogance, decides to ‘go it alone’ in life.

Hmm. Pretty simple, huh?

Two choices in life.

A non-saint. A man or woman who simply refuses to give any space in life for anyone or anything outside themselves. An independent sucker who wants help from no one.

A saint. A man or woman who is smart enough to know they can’t do this thing called life without major help from others, particularly from our Creator/King.

And just in case that simple definition isn’t quite enough for you, let’s conclude by adding these pieces to the puzzle. A saint is one, who only through the power of God (which comes through our admitted weakness), chooses braveness, holds on, never gives up, and believes with full expectation that God, our Rescuing King, will get here soon.

I don’t know about you, but I kinda like this redefinition of sainthood. As I see it, it makes the idea of being a saint much more attainable for an old, goofball sinner like me.

I mean how hard is it to know that I need major help from God and that I need to spend my days down here on planet earth getting closer and closer to Him? And how about this? Instead of trying to be some holy miracle-worker with special powers from above, all I need to do as a saint is to hang on tight to God. A bulldog with my teeth sunk into God’s robe. And if and when life gets tougher, I simply grip on harder. No muss. No fuss. Just a simple, unshakeable determination that once I’ve found God, I just won’t let go.

Now let’s go out there today, my fellow bulldog saints, and hold on tight!

My prayer: God, I choose today to be one who readily admits that I need help. I don’t want to go it alone in my arrogance, but desire to stay as close to You as I possibly can. Holy Spirit, empower me in my weakness to be brave, be strong, and never give up. And when it comes to the future, let me be one who fully expects You to get here soon. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: How might I live my life differently if I knew with certainty that sainthood was as simple and accessible as the steps King David provides for us in Psalm 31? What practical steps can I take today to position myself closer to God, moving away from my arrogance, and trusting more in His strength?

So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?

Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Sustainable Faith-Heartland network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.

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