Psalm 139

Today I was the layreader and one of the readings was Psalm 139 — but not the “bad” verses. We jumped from 18 to 23. I’m not sure this is really a good thing to do. In practicing this piece out loud (but never quite getting it by heart), I realized what I never saw reading it in my head, that this is the movement of a person from being afraid of God to being ready for God to change him/her from “my ways” to “the way everlasting”. It feels to me as if, however brutal the words of verses 19 – 21 are, that part of the person’s trust is realizing that trusting in God is not some weakness. When I became a Christian my mom said more or less, “Well whatever helps you get through the night, dear.” Getting through the night, through terrible and fearful times, is a part of faith in God, even a big part of it. And needing help through the night, or through times when it seems as if no one really sees you, isn’t a weakness. It is a blessing. This is strength. This is mystery. That the Psalmist could in perfect clarity speak of hatred and ask God to kill — there is a brutal honesty in those lines. I wonder if the anger and fear and despair and hatred of those lines is somehow a part of what the Psalmist wants God to know and understand, to search out and fully see, and then lead the Psalmist to a better way, a way everlasting.

 

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