The phrase O for the wings of a dove will probably call to mind a boy soprano’s high notes. It comes from psalm 55, which was set for this morning. I felt some of the verses appropriate for our current situation, despite the heart of the psalm being about a friendship going wrong. Many of us will be feeling caged, cooped up and wishing we could fly away. Some of you may, indeed, be suffering from friendships breaking down and feeling the sharp pain of rejection or betrayal. As the coronavirus lock down continues it will put a strain on relationships.
The psalms contain every human emotion and in particular the psalms of lament, calling out to God, almost always end with a statement of faith, hope and trust in God. (If I remember correctly there is just one psalm of lament that doesn’t turn to trust and hope.)
Psalm 55 verses 4 to 8
My heart is in anguish within me,
the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
5 Fear and trembling come upon me,
and horror overwhelms me.
6 And I say, ‘O that I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
7 truly, I would flee far away;
I would lodge in the wilderness;
8 I would hurry to find a shelter for myself
from the raging wind and tempest.’
Further on the psalmist turns to God:
But I call upon God,
and the Lord will save me.
17 Evening and morning and at noon
I utter my complaint and moan,
and he will hear my voice.
The psalm ends with this in verses 22 & 23:
Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;
and: But I will trust in you.
Whenever I am in anguish or starting to feel things get on top of me, I find the psalms of lament help me to turn, once again, to God and trust in him. Where the psalms talk about enemies and those who hate me, I use those figuratively to represent the difficult situation I am facing. I am fortunate in that I am not aware of anyone who hates me or considers me an enemy. But I can think of this invisible virus as an enemy who is out to get me.
The Common Worship always adds a prayer at the end of psalms and this is the one for Psalm 55:
Lord, in all times of fear and dread,
grant that we may so cast our burdens upon you,
that you may bear us on the holy wings of the Spirit
to the stronghold of your peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Just before reading this, there were some verses from Lamentations, which I also find helpful at this time:
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,[b]
his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
24 ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘therefore I will hope in him.’
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.
This morning’s church reflection by our Reader Sue was a reminder that we are engraved on God’s hands and that he cares for each one of us. There was also a Facebook post of an Elvis song about putting yourself into the hand of Jesus. Don’t know if these links will work – we will see.
I paused at mid-day for a short time of prayer and then turned to emails and I had received one containing a devotional for leaders. It was the last in a series, and having read the first paragraph I decided I wanted to follow it from the beginning. It is based on Psalm 46 which contains the helpful verse about being still and knowing that God is there. The words translated ‘be still’ have more of a sense of letting go – let go, and let God. So I am once again reminded to place myself in God’s hands, to let go of the things that bother me and to trust in him. This is also my prayer for those of you reading this blog.