Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 16, 2005
Psalm crafts a spiritual staircase
Psalm 139 provides pristine, resolute por-life reasoning
My Glass is Half Full
By MARK PICKUP
Psalm 139 is often called the pro-life psalm, and with good reason. The psalmist says God "knit me together in my mother's womb" and "my frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place." Not only does the psalmist declare that God's eyes saw his unformed body but ordained all the days of his life before any of them came to be. Psalm 139 is about unspeakable love and intimacy between Creator and created-every human life that has ever been conceived, including you and me. But Psalm 139 deals with so much more than God's tender presence with the unborn child. In the entire Book of Psalms, the 139th sits as its climax. British biblical scholar, R.E.O. White said "this psalm represents the peak of the Psalter, the maturest individual faith in the Old Testament, and the clearest anticipation of the New."
Omnipresent GodPsalm 139 speaks of God as omnipresent and all-knowing. This understanding is a hallmark of honest, sensible living and is foundational to developing intimacy with God and living a transparent life. Knowing that God is omnipresent helps believers keep short accounts with God and encourages familiarity with the confessional. Personal moments of terror with my own journey into advanced degenerative disability (multiple sclerosis) have brought me back, time and again, to the comfort of Psalm 139.
Lord you have probed me, you know me:
You know when I sit and stand;
You understand my thoughts from afar.
My travels and my rest you mark;
With all my ways you are familiar.
Even before a word is off my tongue,
Lord you know it all.
Behind and before you encircle me
And rest your hand upon me.
The perfect loverWhat perfect romance! Charles Wesley's 18th century hymn was absolutely correct: Jesus is the lover of my soul. He has been the lover of my soul since I was conceived in my mother's womb. He embraces me in the darkest moments of my sorrow and pain just as He has embraced generations of humanity in theirs. Our darkness is not dark to God. The psalmist wrote, "Darkness is not dark for you, and night shines as the day. Darkness and light are as one" (139:12). Christ drives back human darkness. He calls to you and me, "Take courage! It is I, do not be afraid!" He says those words to me when I find myself in the dark nights of the soul. My terror is a body slowly becoming a carcass. Christ rests his hand upon my shoulder and asks me to let him use my affliction as a vehicle for my spiritual purification. There's no much with me that needs to be purified. My curse becomes part of my blessing. As I surrender fear and my silly notions God, and how my life was supposed to be, I can see the darkness of sorrow and bitterness being pushed back for the love of God to flood into my life.
Soar to heavenThe lover of my soul knows that my deepest longing is not to walk or run again: My deepest longing is to soar to heaven in his love. Although I didn't know it until now, that's been my deepest yearning since before my birth. God was with me in my mother's womb.
My very self you knew;
My bones were not hidden from you,
When I was being made in secret,
Fashioned as in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes foresaw my actions;
In your book all are written down;
My days were shaped, before one came to be."
Try me, know my concerns.
See if my way is crooked,
Then lead me in the ancient paths
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