Psalm 116 – 118
Sunday, January 15
Every Tuesday that school meets, I get the opportunity to musically accompany a student who leads a song for our school’s Fellowship of Christian Students. This takes some minor coordination, as a student sends me an email at some point during the week to make sure that I am familiar with the song he/she wants to sing, and he/she might arrange a quick practice if need be. There is really nothing special about these emails. More times than not, all the information is in the subject line, and there is no actual message. One such email came not long ago:
Subject: Singing good good father on Tuesday
At first glance this is far from spectacular. In fact, it is an English teacher’s nightmare. Lack of punctuation, capitalization, or salutation, yet this may have been the most powerful prose that has ever been written by one of my students. These six words have a concealed connotation that are revealed with a reflection on the text.
To say it mildly, this school year had been a bumpy one for the sender of this email. Along with the many other complications that come from being in middle school, this student had faced many a giant outside the school walls. Two months prior, she had suddenly lost a very close grandmother to an unexpected illness. Then, it was only a month later when her grandfather decided he could no longer deal with the tremendous vacancy left by his wife; he took his own life. This left the student floundering, dealing with depression and her own darkening desires, all while trying to do drama-and-hormone-filled middle school as a typical preteen.
I was moved, because out of all the songs she could have picked….this one. Not a song asking God to give her comfort. Not a song asking God to give her strength. Not a song asking God to give her peace, joy, lift the burden, make it go away, overcome, change, deliver, or go before her. Not a song asking God to give her anything she did not already have. Only the reflection upon a few simple words about who he is, and his undeniable, unfaltering, unconcealed relationship with us, that will, in turn, bring all of those things and more.
“You’re a Good, Good Father, it’s who You are
And I’m loved by You, it’s who I am”
“You are perfect in all of your ways to us”
In today’s reading we experience an equally brief but equally powerful message. Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter of the Bible. Depending upon your translation, it is simply twenty words or so.
Upon glancing over it, you have undoubtedly read similar words in other Psalms, and it would be easy to breeze by and never notice its power-packed message:
“Praise the Lord, all you nations,
Praise Him, all you people of the earth.
For his unfailing love for us is powerful
The Lord’s faithfulness endures forever.
Praise the Lord!”
These words were written well before the act of Jesus Christ became our propitiation, yet we are promised partakers in his love and faithfulness. A love and faithfulness that has been and is working for ALL (not Israel, or even Christians) but ALL people of ALL nations at ALL times. Only reflecting upon a few words dramatically affects the reading of this passage. These words, which possibly sound repetitive, general, or generic after reading through the Psalms, are chosen specifically to show that He is and has been working specifically, powerfully, and faithfully in your life much longer than we could have ever expected or known.
“You’re a Good, Good Father”, “Praise the Lord”
(Photo credit: https://dailyverses.net/psalms/116/1-2/kjv)