The abundance of your steadfast love… (Psalms 3-5)
October 21, 2010
Some days are they heavy. They weigh you down. Troubles, imagined or real, seem to mass around you, like an army swarming just beyond the horizon.
We are not like David. We aren’t kings (unless you are in which case welcome to my blog your majesty), we don’t have enemies plotting against us, most of us don’t really have enemies at all. But when David calls out to God for protection and strengh, part of my spirit cries out too. Especially on the heavier days.
Psalms 3-5 are all appeals to God in times of adversity. In fact psalm 4 is a “confident plea” to God. I like that, I love that it’s confident. David is not sayign “hi God, um, are you there? um, yeah, well so you see I sort of need your support…um…” His words are assured; “the Lord hears when I call him” (4:3b). I wonder if he always felt this confident, or if one of the jobs of the psalms was to remind him of that God is and will be. They certainly remind me.
The image that has struck me today is that of God as shield (3:3, 5:12) . Now, it may suprise you to learn that I am not experienced in ancient weapons and hand-to-hand combat. Shocking, i know. But I can imagine the job of a shield… It takes the greatest impact from the blow you will recieve. Though it doesn’t stop the blow completely it saves you from severe injury. So instead of blood there are bruises.
Sometimes I’ve tended to think of God as shield meant that He’s shut out all the troubles of life. But I think the above description is more familiar. On the heavier days I’m not protected from everything. I still feel weighed down and irritable. Life’s bumps still shake me. But I also feel God’s protection, as if His presence is a padding; a barrier between me and the blows. When I imagine this I don’t see a great shield fit or battle. I see myself small and above me the clouds of heaviness, but between us is a great shaft of light. I still see the clouds, they still press in but somehow their power is blunted by the presence of light. God doesn’t wrap us in cotton wool, because the tough times shape us don’t they? But he does soften the blows, though we may not always know it.
In psalm 5 David writes “but I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter you house” (5:7a). The abundance of your steadfast love. What a sublime piece of poetry, what a wonderful expression of the constancy of God in the inconstancy of life. I think the shaft of light on my dark days comes from the knowledge of this adundance. The very thought of God’s presence is a morsel of hope on the days when dark clouds seem to hang over me, for whatever reason. The psalms were no doubt written to praise but also to remind us of all that is available through faith.
“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy.” (5:11)