We have a talented poet in our writers’ group. Unfortunately, I’m not that skilled at interpreting that genre. Sometimes her poetry puzzles me, but it is always lyrical.
But I think the best poetry (both understandable — even for me — and lyrical) are the Psalms. These poetic songs relate to every human experience. The writers cry out to God, question Him, beg His help against enemies, and speak of their bones being crushed by the weight of guilt. They are raw in their pain and fearless in challenging God. They are also comforting, as is the well-known 23rd Psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd…”
King David’s Psalm 139 remains my favorite, go-to Psalm when I am troubled and need to cling to God. As simply a poem, any poet would read it with envy. Here are the first few verses.
“O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before, and laid You hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it. ” (Psalm 139: 1-6) NIV
King David goes on to pray that God is always with us, no matter how hard and how far we try to escape His loving embrace. He created us “…fearfully and wonderfully” in our mothers’ wombs, when our frames were made in “secret.” Even before our first breath, our days were “…written in Your book when as yet, there were none of them.” We remain always in God’s thoughts, yet none of us are worthy of one of them.
The day after I had foot surgery, I could not bear weight on it (even though the podiatrist assured me I would be able to walk). My dog, leashed to go out to water the grass, was going nowhere any time soon. Lord, what shall I do? I muttered. The words were not out of my mouth when Good Neighbor Dave appeared at my door with my morning paper.
“I suddenly thought you may want this,” he said. I thanked him, took the paper, and handed him the leash. Don’t tell me any of us are off God’s radar even for a second!
After crying for justice, David concludes with the petition for God to search him, know what is troubling him, convict him of sin, and finally to lead him “…in the way everlasting.”
Yup the 139th is my all-time favorite. What is your favorite Psalm?
Love the article – now on to Psalm 139 to read it!!
You will love it, Ade
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1 King James Version
This psalm was my confirmation verse…a treasure given 63 years ago. I can’t tell you how many times a week these words are remembered and relid upon.
I love that young people are given their very own Bible verse by their pastor upon Confirmation in the Lutheran Church. I wish I had gotten one. I’ve discovered everyone remembers their special verse all their lives! What a gift. Psalm 46 is so encouraging.
“The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want . . .”
Many years ago, upon being told that my wife, in a hospital many miles away, had sudden;y died, I spent a whole night at the Air Force Base hospital where I worked aimlessly wandering the halls as I waited for departure time of a flight that would take me to her. As departure time grew closer, I was taken to the passenger terminal where I sat, alone with only my thoughts. A stranger approached me. “Hello, I am the protestant chaplain here. (I am a Catholic) The Catholic chaplain is away this week. Would it be OK if I sat with you until you board the plane?” I nodded, silent. He sat, opened his bible and, in a low and gentle voice, began reading, “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want . . .” His presence and the words of the psalm were the first consolation I had experienced all night. I’ll never forget and always be grateful for that unnamed chaplain’s presence.
That must have been one of the worst days of your life, Rick. Thank God another Christian was there to give you comfort through the Psalms, especially the 23rd. Your story reminds me we are all of a “holy priesthood” and what that Protestant chaplain did for you is something we should all learn to do without hesitation.