Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Looking for the Wise

The readings from the Common Lectonary for last Sunday suggest Psalm 14. In both the New Revised Standard Version and in Gary Chamberlain's translation, Verse 2 says that God looks down from heaven on all humankind (descendants of Adam) to see if anyone is wise, if anyone seeks for God. And in Verse 3, the answer seems to be an emphatic "No".

This Psalm is one of the most depressing I've ever read. In the last verse, Israel still needs deliverance and though the refuge of the poor is the Lord, the people are still waiting for their fortunes to be restored. Until that time, the lot of those who take refuge in God is to look on the fools of the world--those who have gone astray and have convinced themselves there is no God--and wait.

The only hope held out is one word in verse 7. When.

Not "If". Not "Maybe". "When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people,..."

I'm in a good place right now. I'm blessed with good health, no major problems, doing fairly well financially. What I want to do is throw this psalm at the wall, shred it, burn it, so that it can't remind me of the flip side of life--the side, mind you, I have experienced in the past. The side where the ripples of life turn negative and the waves batter me. When life's wheel turns back into the muck. But I don't want to know that now. I want to enjoy these good times. Save the memories up. Smile at the pleasures. Rejoice at the wonderful experiences.

Instead, Psalm 14 has stayed with me since Sunday. Urging me to remember that when the negative ripples come at me and life begins pelting lemons and rotten tomatoes, I am to take refuge in the Lord.

And to say over and over that one, powerful word, WHEN.
When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people, Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.


  1. I just recently discovered your blog and love it -- especially your reclaiming the "problem" psalms! Just wanted to mention that Psalm 53 is a different version of Psalm 14 -- the latter written in the Yahwist (J) tradition, the former in the Elohist (E) tradition.

  2. Welcome, Tim! So glad to hear from you. I'll definitely take a look at Psalm 53. What an education I'm getting this summer. Blessings on your day.