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Psalm 33, Hope in God

Snake Shield

There's some was imagery in the psalm for today. While images of war is not something that usually speaks to me, it was fitting for the psalmist. He was clearly under attack from his enemies, and turned to the Lord for help. In the Lord, the psalmist found courage as he imagined the Lord as his help and shield. 

When I was 6 years old, we had moved across the country and were living in a new house. The house had unusual creaks and squeaks, and I had a wild imagination. For quite some time I awoke every night needing to go to the bathroom. It wasn't far -- literally across the hall from my bedroom. But the hallway wasn't the problem. It was under the bed that terrified me. I don't know what scary movies I might have caught a glimpse of, or if I just had an imagination filled with horror and terrible things, but I was terrified to leave my bed. I believed there were snakes under there. Terrible, smart, and predatory snakes that were waiting for me to step on the floor so they could grab my feet and pull me under. For a while, I solved the problem by jumping off my bed as far from under-the-bed as I could manage. But that was a tricky business, making that much noise in the middle of the night every night. I had to come up with another plan. And so I did.

I imagined that God's hand came down from heaven into my bedroom. God held God's hand palm down with the fingers and thumb forming a sort of protective cage around me. As long as God's hand was around me, those evil snakes couldn't get in. They were more terrified of God's hand than I was of them. The more scared I was, the bigger God's hand became, even as big as to shield my whole entire bedroom from any danger.

I don't envision God's hand like that the way I did when I was 6. But I do still have a vivid imagination. When I am experiencing social anxiety, I imagine myself in a giant bubble. Air and light can move freely, but negative energy cannot penetrate it. I know that this bubble concept came directly from my childhood image of God's protective hand. Even today, God keeps me safe from the things that haunt my spirit.

Narrative Lectionary Text: Psalm 33

Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous.
   Praise befits the upright. 
Praise the Lord with the lyre;
   make melody to him with the harp of ten strings. 
Sing to him a new song;
   play skilfully on the strings, with loud shouts. 

For the word of the Lord is upright,
   and all his work is done in faithfulness. 
He loves righteousness and justice;
   the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord. 

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
   and all their host by the breath of his mouth. 
He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle;
   he put the deeps in storehouses. 

Let all the earth fear the Lord;
   let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. 
For he spoke, and it came to be;
   he commanded, and it stood firm. 

The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
   he frustrates the plans of the peoples. 
The counsel of the Lord stands for ever,
   the thoughts of his heart to all generations. 
Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord,
   the people whom he has chosen as his heritage. 

The Lord looks down from heaven;
   he sees all humankind. 
From where he sits enthroned he watches
   all the inhabitants of the earth— 
he who fashions the hearts of them all,
   and observes all their deeds. 
A king is not saved by his great army;
   a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. 
The war horse is a vain hope for victory,
   and by its great might it cannot save. 

Truly the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him,
   on those who hope in his steadfast love, 
to deliver their soul from death,
   and to keep them alive in famine. 

Our soul waits for the Lord;
   he is our help and shield. 
Our heart is glad in him,
   because we trust in his holy name. 
Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
   even as we hope in you.

Earlier Event: September 8
Revelation 21:7-27, A New Jerusalem
Later Event: September 10
Genesis 1:1—2:4a, Creation by the Word