Saturday, September 15, 2007

Psalm 139

Psalm 139 is a rich treasure. While meditating on it, trying to think of an art project, I had several thoughts.
My first thought was of God knowing our future- “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” I thought of a photograph album that we fill with our past, but leave blank pages for the future, and I remembered a woman whose blog I had read a few times in the last few weeks. She was pregnant, but the child died- and the future that the mother hoped for didn’t come to be. But God knew that.
My second thought was of a conversation I had last weekend about husbands and wives finishing each other’s sentences because they know each other and their topics so well. My parents, for example, can have a conversation purely with pronouns and other vague terms, that is unintelligible to anyone listening to them, but which makes perfect sense to the both of them because they know the contexts of each other’s lives. I had always understood Psalm 139 to be about God’s omniscience and omnipotence, but now I see it as the psalmist writing about his intimacy with God. He isn’t writing about God knowing where everyone is all the time, or what everyone thinks, but about God knowing HIM, the writer. “You have searched me, and you know me.” You know my movements, you know what I’m thinking about. “You are familiar with all my ways.” Unlike the marriage of one of my colleagues in Colombia, where her husband had never seen her without makeup, and, presumably, had never seen her doing something like picking her nose, H knows me very well. I don’t hide my faults from him, or my weaknesses. (Though I try to be polite about the grosser stuff.) So he knows me pretty well- that’s intimacy. And that’s what this Psalm is about- it’s personal- not universal. And it’s about relationship- not power.
I like the line- “When I awake I am still with you.” This seems to mean thoughts of God fill the psalmist’s dreams. I don’t, big surprise, like the following lines- about how he wants God to kill people. Gary suggested that this is the Psalmist displaying his weakness- this hate- and then he goes into the lines asking God to search him again.
Perhaps, but it just sounds very Old Testament to me.
Of course I can never be completely serious for long. The whole middle section is the Psalmist describing God’s ability to do things that humans have only recently developed the technology for. (See if you can match them to the attribute.)
Airplanes and rocket ships, submarines, sonograms, night scope visions, and Coca Cola! (Yes globalization rears its head.)

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