Be merciful to me, O God, for in you my soul takes refuge…
I lie down among lions that greedily devour human prey;
their teeth are spears and arrows, their tongues sharp swords…
Psalm 57 couples with the stories and visions from the book of Daniel during this Living in The Story reading week. Although the traditional setting places it during the time of David’s trials, we also see Daniel in the poet’s cries of complaint and praise.
See the double meaning here: adversaries like lions and their accusing words like swords. Adversaries like beasts that lie in wait and plot for destruction.
How do any of us respond to such threats and challenges?
Like Daniel, like the psalmist, people of faith orient themselves toward the Creator-Redeemer-Sustainer of all that is.
I cry to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me…
In the faith of the psalmist, it is God Most High who designs our life’s purpose and vocation.
This does not mean God plans every decision we make and every step we take. Rather Psalm 57 suggests that God holds overarching meaning for us; The One Who is our Beginning and our End holds our Big Picture Plan.
It’s a comforting thought: trusting that Creator is in everything – dark and light, terror and beauty. Faith leads us to trust that God Most High holds all things and is weaving everything together in ways we will never understand.
See also the psalmist’s theme of steadfastness.
God will send forth steadfast love and faithfulness …
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast …
GOD’s love and faithfulness are absolutely steadfast.
So our human response can be firm as well. We too have some ability to glimpse the Big Picture and to place our current experiences within a larger context.
We too can remain faithful to the Faithful One, trusting that God will not leave us alone. Believing that the lions’ dens and the fiery furnaces that come our way will not be permanent.
As people of faith, we choose to look; we choose to see.
So the psalmist’s challenge to himself is our challenge:
Awake, my soul!
Wake Up! and Stay Woke!
In order to do that, the psalmist describes a discipline of faith that is timely practice for all of us who struggle.
- Singing our faith.
- Giving witness to our faith in God’s unending faithfulness and steadfast love.
- Taking what is inward and proclaiming it outwardly, publicly, boldly.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens.
Let your glory be over all the earth.
The benediction for Psalm 57 sings like our Lord’s Prayer: Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.
May this be our constant prayer – not only with our words and recitations but with every fiber of our being: giving ourselves over to the Divine Purposes of God Most High who surely will fulfill the Divine Purpose for all creation.
Faith’s enduring eschatological hope.
Image credit from National Gallery of Art: Sir Peter Paul Rubens Flemish, 1577 – 1640