Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
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 Davids trials, we also see Daniel in the cries of complaint and praise.
I love the double meaning here: adversaries like lions and their accusing words like swords. Adversaries like beasts that lie in wait and plot for your destruction. Have you been there? I have.
It is all too easy to turn inward during these times of conflict. It is tempting to retreat to the “poor me’s.” I have been there too. But the psalmist teaches us a better way, a wiser response.
I cry to God Most High,
to God who fulfills his purpose for me.
He will send from heaven and save me,
he will put to shame those who trample on me.
God will send forth his steadfast love and his faithfulness.
In the faith of the psalmist, it is God Most High who designs our purpose, our task and vocation within our lives. Not (I think) planning every decision and step we make, but overall; an overarching meaning for us as we live as people of faith.
It’s a comforting thought: trusting that Creator is in everything – dark and light – including (even!) me in the mysterious divine work of accomplishing divine purposes. I don’t/can’t make this happen out of my own skill or intelligence; faith leads me to trust that God Most High holds the Big Picture and is weaving everything together in ways I will never understand.
My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast.
I will sing and make melody.
Awake, my soul!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is as high as the heavens;
your faithfulness extends to the clouds.
Father Richard Rohr reminds us that each of us individually and all of us together are included in God’s unconditional and unending love. Our problem, he explains, is that we are too often blind and unaware of that Divine Love.
We are not awake.
So the psalmist’s challenge to himself is our challenge:
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.
We take what is inward and proclaim 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.
This should 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