I’ve been engaging with the Psalms lately, and have appreciated reading some of the scholarly writings about them. One of the underlying foundational principles that bind together all the psalms is this believe that God rules justly over all. The various writers of the psalms are not starting out with an assumption that they may, or may not, fall into the hands of a God whose character is questionable. These poets BELIEVED. And this point must be remembered because these writers say some pretty interesting things along the way!
One theologian says that the number one most common kind of psalm is a ‘lament’ psalm. Psalm 139, is one of those kinds of psalms.
Lord, you have examined me.
You know me.
You know when I sit down and when I stand up.
Even from far away, you comprehend my plans. Psalm 139:1-2
I come from a family system that is, shall we say, suspicious in nature. My mother, just the other day, explained to me about how the medical system was out to get her. She was wondering if the medicine they prescribed was intended to keep her sick so that she’d have to keep coming back to the doctor. “What a racket!” she explained to me in no uncertain terms. Her recommendation for me? Never, ever get in the habit of going to the doctor. They’ll just make you sick.
With that familial perspective in mind, perhaps you can imagine that when I first started reading the psalms, I was a little freaked out by this God who has examined me, knows me, and knows my every move. It’s enough to send a gal looking for hidden cameras!
When discovered that the psalmists all presume that God is compassionate, caring, just, and ruler over all – this changes the tone of the poem for me.
We are not alone.
Whether I find myself walking down a hospital corridor or sitting with a wife who is oh-so-sad about her husband’s drinking problem or facing a family crisis, I am reminded of this: the Lord is with us, all of us. The sick, the sad, and all the in-betweens – we are known by a God who can be trusted with our vulnerable states.
Today, take a few minutes to sit with that knowledge. Maybe you will discover, like my mom, that you feel a little paranoid about being so well known. That’s okay. Just notice it and consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe, you need a new orientation. Maybe there is a perspective shift that needs to happen within you…