Song 107 – Abridged

man jumping for joy
Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/unconstructive_bry/2385522475/">Bryan</a>

Psalm 107:1-3, 14-21

Thank God,
because God is good!
God’s true love is eternal.
Let those God bought back from slavery admit it:
God redeemed them from their captors;
God gathered them from all nations in every direction.

God brought them out of the dark gloomy prison
And broke them free from their chains.
They ought to thank God
For loving them so reliably,
And for doing such awesome things
For everyone.
God broke down the bronze doors
And snapped the iron bars in half.

Some, who had failed because of their own stupidity,
Were in trouble.
They had lost their appetites,
And were dying of starvation.
In desperation, they called out to God,
Who heard them, and rescued them.
God spoke a restoring word to them,
And rescued them from their doom.
They ought to thank God
For loving them so reliably,
An for doing such awesome things
For everyone.
They ought to pay it forward,
And write joyful songs about what God did.

Song 5

plant blooming from chained flower pot
Image credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/joost-ijmuiden/5174371841/">Joost J. Bakker</a>

Psalm 5

Let me bend your ear, God.
Hear how troubled I am.
Listen to my call, my prayer to you,
My God, my boss.

God, in the morning you hear me speak.
In the morning I make my case, and then I wait.

God, you’re not the kind who revels in wrong.
Evil won’t hang out with you.
Braggers can’t meet your gaze.
You hate evildoers.
You annihilate liars.
God detests violence and dishonesty.

As for me, I will enter your house
Because you love me.
In your temple, I’ll bow toward you
And respect you.

Consider my enemies,
And clear the way for me
So I can go the right way.
They can’t tell the truth.
They’re bent on destruction.
Their throats are open graves.
They have forked tongues.
Let them get what’s coming to them, God.
Let them be on the receiving end of their own schemes.
Let them be thrown out
Because they’ve crossed the line.
It’s you they’ve betrayed.

Even so, let everyone who remains true rejoice,
And sing with joy.
Surround them with your protection
So they can shower their love on you.
God, you bless the good,
And your kindness is their shield.

While this is similar to Song 3, in it’s pleading for help in the struggle against enemies, this song takes a much more humble, and ultimately more powerful, approach.

Rather than invoking God to break and smash the opposition, this song expresses the longing that those who act treacherously would simply fall into their own traps, and that meanwhile that God would protect the innocent from coming to harm.

Rather than taking the opposition to war, in this song, the singer takes the enemy to court. The clever part about the case is that it shifts the identity of the victim. The victim isn’t the singer, it’s God: “It’s you they’ve betrayed.”

Maybe psychologists would call this transference. If that’s what it is, then it’s a healthy kind of transference, because it gets you out from under being a victim. If the victim is God, then God can take care of it – however God likes. It’s not anything that need concern the singer any longer. The singer is free.

Quite often the most paralyzing aspect of our situation is that we feel (rightly or wrongly) that we’re the victim. “They” did such-and-such to us. “They” won’t let us. “They” say this about us. Or, perhaps we’re a victim of circumstance. A downturn in the market. A bad company policy. A rainy day. The wrongdoings that we’ve suffered may indeed be real, but the longer we play the victim, the longer we extend the pain they cause us.

Giving your troubles to God doesn’t mean you’ll never have to deal with troubles, but if you’re no longer a victim, you can find a great deal more freedom for dealing with them when they come.

Song 19

Sunrise in Space
Image Credit: Jeff Michelmann

Psalm 19

Heaven tells how great God is
And the sky reveals God’s artistry.

One day tells the next,
And nightly a new discovery
Is revealed in a silence
That echoes around the world
And beyond.

The newly married sun
Emerges from the horizon
To run the race, just for the thrill of it,
From one horizon to the other,
Across the span of the sky,
And nothing avoids the heat.

God’s teaching is perfect,
Life renewing.
God’s saying is trustworthy,
Mind enlightening.
God’s order is true,
Heart rejoicing.
God’s requirements are clear,
Eye opening.
God’s awesomeness is cleansing,
Eternity enduring.

Knowing God
Is totally worth it:
Better than being filthy rich;
Better than being a kid in a candy store;
Even better than sex!

Without doubt, here is a warning!
Stay close to God,
Because you can’t see your own mistakes
Until it’s too late,
And willpower alone won’t keep you out of trouble.
But near God, you’ll be ok,
And cleared of any accusation.

Let me be true,
In what I say to others, and to myself,
That I may find divine acceptance,
Strength, and forgiveness.

Song 4

woman sleeping
Photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/caseydavid/6169256357/">Casey Muir-Taylor</a>

Psalm 4

God, do right! Answer when I call.
When my hands were tied, you gave me wiggle room.
Now, listen to what I have to say.

As for you people,
How long must I endure you?
How long will you continue to be taken in by smooth talkers?
God will stick with those who stick with God.
When I talk, God listens.

When you’re desperate, don’t do wrong.
Better to keep quiet and sleep on it,
Offer what’s right,
Trust God.

Lots of people say,
“If only God would give us something good!
We wish we could see God’s face!”
You’ve given me more happiness
Than they have when their investments all pay off.

I can sleep at night,
Because I know God keeps me safe.

This poem is about grace under pressure.

Rather than take matters into one’s own hands, this poem’s advice is to take a step back, count to 10, sleep on it. Don’t take the first quick deal that comes along, just because it sounds good. And, above all, be true. In return, the wisdom of the poem offers divine protection, guidance, blessing, and peace.

The caveat is that sometimes one must wait quite a long time for divine vindication to come, and the longer the wait, the harder it is to resist the urge to react in unhealthy ways – letting anger get the better of us, taking a bad deal, losing our cool.

That doesn’t mean that one always remain passive. Rather, it means being responsive rather than reactive. It means acting in a way that remains true to who you really are, with intentionality, with authenticity. After all, when you go to sleep each night, how peacefully you sleep depends on how well aligned your actions are with what your dreams reveal to you.