Many of us grew up being told (or telling ourselves) to be good and do well. In other words, learning to follow the rules and achieving admirable goals. Psalm 108starts out there but then heads in another direction. Will you look through it line by line with me?
My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast.
The singer begins his/her morning by declaring their position, “I am steadfast.” I can imagine someone swinging their legs out of bed with resolve for a new day of challenges. They tell God that they are ready.
I will sing and make melody. Here’s the first work of the day.
Awake, my soul! And here’s the personal pep talk!
Awake O harp and lyre! Get your tools in gear!
I will awake the dawn.
Now awake, he/she feels empowered to impact all of creation.
It’s like a yoga power pose. This song will rock the world. And in that moment of empowerment, the singer’s attention refocuses. He/she is greeting the dawn, but not the creator of it.
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples
And I will sing praises to you among the nations.
Not only is he/she not in charge of the world but, as they continue to awaken, they see that they are not alone. In their empowerment they are surrounded by others of God’s making.
For your steadfast love is higher than the heavens
And your faithfulness reaches to the clouds
The awestruck singer’s mind opens wider, their hands and heart reach higher-up, up up, out, out out. It is a stretch that brings new power to his/her body and soul. God is good! It is God’s steadfastness that grounds my own attempt to stand on these two feet, to wheel my chair, to dance each day’s dance.
For your steadfast love is higher than the heavens,
And your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
My creator’s love is impossibly expansive, more than I can imagine, and yet still it holds me.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens,
And let your glory be over all the earth.
I lose myself in God’s glory. And still I am found, here in God’s earth-creation singing, searching, shouting, crying.
Give victory with your right hand, and answer me,
So that those whom you love may be rescued.
The “so that” pierces my heart every time.
My imagination can only begin to grasp the day he/she faced. The original singer of Psalm 108 lived in a disparate time of international conflict. Verses continue to flow, now describing the battles that are the singers' work, full of moments of achievement and frustration. It ends with a reminder that completion of the work is in God’s own hands not the singer’s.
This past summer, I read this psalm 64 times with pastors during our annual conversations. It became a rhythmic soul exercise. As I prepare to post these thoughts now the sun is coming out over a rain-swelled pond. Light glints on the surface. A loon is joining the song. I am not alone. I am awake. I am finding my voice. I am in community. I will face challenges in a post 9-11 world. I have a purpose that is not only my own but part of God’s own. The Christ desires that we be well and do good. The living Spirit breathes that possibility into us each day.
Good (God’s) Morning!
With God we shall do valiantly.
Karen L Munson
A pastor and artist, I'm wondering while I'm wandering through God's marvelous creation.