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Lenten Reflections: Without a Psalm

'Day 27: Psalm for the Day' photo (c) 2010, truds09 - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Sunday, Feb. 24

Gen. 5:1-12, 17-18
Psalm 27                                                        
Luke 13: 31-35
Phil. 3:17-4: 1

By Mary Krug    

 Today’s passages did not hold a great deal of inspiration for me.  The Genesis selection is a genealogy, one male after another living 800 years each.  In Luke, Jesus responds to the Pharisees’ warning that Herod seeks to kill him, telling them that “I must go on my way … for it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.” Paul reminds the Philippians “For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ.” And that leaves the Psalm. 

I am always grateful for a Psalm, and I do not know what I would do without them, in fear, or sorrow, and especially in joy and praise.  I never feel that I am able to praise and thank God adequately.  As I walk up my long driveway from the mailbox each day, flanked by ancient trees towering above me, surrounded by woods and wildlife, I am awed by the setting in which God allows me to live. "WOW!" is a meager and unsatisfying expression of wonder and gratitude.  I simply cannot find the right words to express my sense of blessing.  And when the curse of depression threatens to overcome me, again words fail me, it is so hard to ask "why?" or beg help.

Thank God for the Psalms.  Where would I be without a Psalm?  As I contemplated that question, an old song came into mind, “Without a Song,” by George Benson:  I'll never know what makes the rain to fall; I'll never know what makes the grass so tall; I only know there ain't no love at all; Without a song!  And even emptier, without a Psalm.

At weddings, at funerals, in joy or pain or fear or gratitude, we turn to the Psalms. What we cannot express from the depths of our souls, they do for us. Today’s Psalm 27 covers a gamut of emotions, as David expresses, first, unconditional trust and joy, then a longing to "behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple."  God is 'light", "salvation," and "strength."  But in the second half, verses 7-14, despair and fear set in. Trust continues, however. David is not afraid to reveal his heart and mind to God.

Sometimes, familiarity may make us miss the depths that we find in the center of our Bibles. These are not Hallmark sentiments.  They are real, they are emotional, they are human, and they are a gift. They remind us that God is not some distant being out in the stars, but, for the Psalmists, Someone to praise, to worship, yes, but also to wrestle with, sometimes to accuse or harangue, or question, but always trust.

Lord God, thank you for the gift of Psalms, that express for us our deepest feelings, of love, of trust, of awe and wonder, of fear and anger and despair, all of those too-human needs that we cannot find the words to express or comprehend. Amen. 

Mary Krug is a member of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, in Washington, D.C. This post is reprinted, with permission,  from NYAPC's 2013 Lenten Meditations booklet.


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