Yesterday, I talked about the Ten. You may have figured out it was part of my homily on Sunday at the hospital. Today, is the next part of that homily. Our texts moved from Exodus 20 to Psalm 19. I learned half of this song AS a song, in junior high (middle school hadn’t been invented yet) when I was playing the guitar at campfires and youth group.
We have a different approach to God’s words.
I’m not sure, for sure, that David wrote this song-poem, though it’s attributed to him and it does make sense. David, spending nights and days guiding and guarding sheep, spending his days and nights on the run, at war, keeping watch. A poet and a leader familiar with fields and caves and tents.
The song has powerful imagery.
The sky above, as far as you can see. Sun and clouds. Stars and constellations. Its immensity talks to us. Night after night, David talking to God about everything and seeing the constellations moving through the seasons. Meaning without words, presence without voice.
And then David turns to the words he has. The writings we know as the books of Moses. Law and history, promises and warning. People who did right, people who didn’t. The stories of the people in the wilderness and the judges and the story of his great-grandmother Ruth.
All those stories, David says, are refreshing. They are life giving. They affirm and describe God’s persistent and consistent care for his people. Regardless of what they did.
This one psalm, this one song, bears witness to God through word and presence.
And the prayer at the end for help with obedience. It’s remarkable actually.
“God. You have given us direction. Now, can you help me do what you are asking me to do?”
It’s not just a confession of wrong.
It’s a profession of faith.
It’s acknowledgement that we are not able to live up to God alone, and an acknowledgment that God’s not mad at us for that. But is, apparently, interested in helping.
You can read it, too: Psalm 19