Going Deeper 3/13/2019

The Psalm for Lent 2...
Psalm 27   The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  When evildoers assail me to devour my flesh— my adversaries and foes— they shall stumble and fall.  Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident.  One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.  For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will set me high on a rock.  Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the Lord.   ||  Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me!  "Come," my heart says, "seek his face!"  Your face, Lord, do I seek.  Do not hide your face from me.  Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help.  Do not cast me off, do not forsake me, O God of my salvation!  If my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will take me up.  Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.  Do not give me up to the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, and they are breathing out violence.  I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Two Psalms for the price of one?  So it would appear.   The first half of this psalm declares a quite radical confidence and trust in God’s divine care, while the second half (I marked the division ||) carries a very different tone, one of lament and pleading with God to turn his face toward the one who is crying out.  The difference is so stark some have concluded that somewhere along the line someone decided to combine two Psalms into one.

Could be.  But in a way, it makes some sense to combine lament with an expression of trust.  That is often the way it is in real life.  We might be experiencing stress or heartbreak or fear and at the very same time express confidence that God can and will deliver us.  In a strange way, stress and trust can coexist.  I trust that some of you know what I mean, but at the same time I worry that some might think I'm crazy.  (Not really... just an attempt to illustrate my point!)

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?" and "Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud" really do flow together.

As I have stated many times before, that is the beauty of the Psalms.  They give expression to whatever we may be experiencing or feeling in our life, even when it is a complex combination of feelings.

Mark Gabbert