As humans in relationship with God and others we often suppress our emotions because we want to appear respectable. We fear exposure so we keep feelings bottled up inside where it is safe and others cannot see them. When we are able to bring those things out into the open and name them for what they are those feelings begin to lose their power over us. Like a wound that is uncovered and exposed to light and air, when we give voice to our emotions and confront them, we begin to heal. Yesterday I reflected on Psalm 137 and the psalmist’s expressions of hate. By naming these strong emotions, the psalmist begins to work through them. Psalms 138 and 139 are a continuation of that prayer.
Read these words from Psalm 139 …
1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
3 You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.
7 Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
9 If I take the wings of the morning,
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you,
the night is as bright as the day;
for darkness is as light to you.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts;
24 See if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139 has always been one of my favorite psalms because it speaks of a Creator who knows us intimately and whose presence is with us even in the darkest of dark places – yes, even in the midst of our hate and anger. Like a mother who will not let her child out of her sight, God will go to great lengths to keep us within reach. For the psalmist, even in the midst of deep despair, in the midst deep and utter darkness, God is present. Although this psalm is attributed to David, some scholars believe that it was re-written after the time of David when the Israelites were forced from their homes, lost their identity and were exiled to Babylon. This psalm served as a reminder that God was indeed with them wherever they went, even the dark places like Sheol, Hell, Babylon. As we journey closer to the cross during this Holy Week, may this psalm serve as a reminder of God’s presence with us.