Preacher: “I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me.”
Seeker: I was just thinking, Preacher, it must have been hard back in biblical times for the small nation of Israel to try to establish itself amongst the large nations. Maybe one of the reasons they (primarily King David) “rejoiced” so much was because he was able to establish the kingdom of Israel.
Preacher: “O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you have healed me.”
Seeker: It also occurs to me that many people in our modern time are trying to establish themselves amongst those who seem more powerful and with more resources. I hope for their sake that they find things to rejoice in, and that they feel the blessing of the Divine.
Preacher: “O LORD, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.”
Seeker: I hear this talk of advantage because of one’s race and ethnic heritage. I do not feel like I have had advantages because of my skin color and parentage. Maybe it is so embedded and a part of my identity that I cannot see the advantage. If that is the case, I wish, hope, and pray that all of humanity could have the advantage that seems to be gifted to me.
Preacher: “Sing praises to the LORD, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name.”
Seeker: Preacher, don’t you have any comment and response to what I have been saying?
Preacher: Well, it seemed as if what the psalmist was writing, verse after verse, was such an appropriate response and commentary on your thoughts. But I too wish that the blessings the psalmist lists could be a reality for all. Just because current society and the sadly prevalent & hate-filled mindset is oppressive does not mean the Divine is that way as well. I think that is one of the flaws that ancient called and chosen people had and needed to overcome – that the Divine was an “angry God”.
Seeker: “For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” You are right, Preacher, the psalmist seems to be spot-on!
Preacher: “As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.”
Seeker: “By your favor, O LORD, you had established me as a strong mountain; . . . “ But the psalmist also said, “ . . . you hid your face; I was dismayed.” King David did have tough times; the psalmist does display the range of emotions and set backs that parallel our modern times.
Preacher: “To you, O LORD, I cried, and to the LORD I made supplication: “What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me! O LORD, be my helper!”
Seeker: I also hear the mindset of the Old Testament; that the early followers of Yahweh thought there was a reciprocal relationship – that the Divine gave and they were to follow the commandments (that is, as they understood them) and bless the Lord when they perceived their adoration was needed by the Lord God.
Preacher: That is a very astute analysis, Seeker. You delight me with your insights. “You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever.” We tend to forget that the Hebrews/Israelites/Jew offered what they thought the Lord God wanted. Several prophets tried to set the record straight and correct their perceptions. It took Jesus to make that shift, and even then not everyone got it. Some have still not gotten it. What we need is the humbleness of King David combined with the insight & instruction that comes from Jesus and the Holy Presence.
Seeker: Shalom & Selah, Preacher, Shalom & Selah!