Psalm 69 (Psalms on the Trail)

Psalm 69

“O God, you know my pretenses,

and my faults are not hidden from you.

Let those who search for you

not use me as a guide.”  

Psalm 69: 5-6

Reflection:  By now many of you know the importance of the white blaze.  It is the dependable guide on the Appalachian Trail.  Follow it and you will get to the next spring or shelter in your guidebook. Don’t follow it and…well, you’re on your own.  Based on this photo, does the blaze indicate that you go forward, to the right, behind you or to the left?  You are correct if you said to go right and this is what you would then see:

Psalm 69If you zoom in, you might be able to discern the path of trampled grass and in the far  distance another hiker, my hiking buddy, and another blazed pole. Whether on a pole, a tree, a rock, or a fence, the blaze is a guide for over 2,000 miles.

Anyone who is a teacher, a mentor, a coach, a counselor or a pastor might know what I mean when I say that being a guide is a fearful thing.  Yes, there are some people who are born leaders and enjoy it!  The apostle Paul, for instance, had no hesitation in telling the church in Philippi to follow his example.  I’ve learned from Paul, but I don’t identify with him.  Although we’re very different, I understand Moses better.  Here was a man who argued with God at length about not wanting to be a leader.  When things on the journey went wrong, he was quick to blame God or blame the people.  He had a temper. He was even a murderer (for ostensibly good reasons.)  He knew he wasn’t cut out to do the job of leading a people out of slavery in Egypt to freedom in the middle east.

I am aware of any number of things that could disqualify me from being a leader.  Standing up in front of people is no thrill.  Having some measure of influence in their spiritual formation is daunting.  That doesn’t mean I don’t love the people whom I am called to be with or love the Lord who called me or love the work given to me.  I just know myself well enough to hope I am not their sole guide.  Fearful stuff!  Except Paul did say something that makes sense to me in my trepidation:  that in my weakness God’s strength is made perfect.  If that’s the definition of a leader, then I guess I am not disqualified.  My weakness-God’s strength.  So I keep following  those white blazes.  Keep following Christ’s lead.


1. Take this verse with you and ponder its meaning for you throughout the day.  What do you notice?  What do you wonder?  Have you been a guide or leader to someone?  Offer a prayer for that person today,and thank God for  guiding you in the relationship.

2. Or read all of Psalm 69 to discover how this verse fits into the psalm or to discover a different verse.

3. Or comment with a photo of your own that illustrates this verse’s meaning for you.

Tomorrow’s verse is from Psalm 70:4.

Starting January 1, 2016, for 150 days I am posting a daily psalm verse with a photo that is a visual meditation on the text for me.  Each day a verse from the next psalm is chosen until all 150 psalms have been featured.   To participate you may subscribe to my blog at or “friend” me on Facebook and watch for the daily links to blog posts.  Disclaimer:  I am not a photographer and most of the photos are from a cell phone or small camera while hiking the Appalachian Trail or the C&O Canal/Great Allegheny Passage Trail.


  1. I think the only sure way to know if you are a leader is to look behind you. If there are others following you then you’re a leader. And it is a bit of a paradox that people follow because you know yourself, but knowing yourself means you know why they should be following someone else.

  2. I love the white blazes by the way. Like the Camino’s yellow arrows: for me on of the best metaphors for the presence of the Holy Spirit.

  3. You are one of most tenacious people I know. I am too, in my own way, but that’s because I’m stubborn and too self destructive. You are that way because of your sense of calling and your faith.

  4. I continue to follow this blog because all of the things with which you grapple speak to me and help to point me to the One who is our Shepherd, our Creator, and the Author and Completer of our faith. Well said, my friend.

  5. Wonderful reflection. I like to think I am the instrument, the strings that vibrate to share a greater music. And, I’ve always thought good teachers learn as much or more from their students as the knowledge and lessons they seek to share.