Tuesday, January 29, 2008


PSALM 17 (King James Version)
"As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness."

This psalm moved me deeply when I read it last week, and it hasn't ceased rolling through me since then. It begins with a repeated heartfelt cry for the LORD to hear, and to answer. It is a plea which echoes throughout the entire book of Psalms (Tehillim)--hear me LORD, remember me. The singer is beset with enemies; he is oppressed and compassed about. It seems that whichever direction he turns, all he can see is row upon endless row of his fat foes, while his Heavenly Friend is nowhere to be found. He proclaims, like Job, his own righteosness, and demands that the LORD give him satisfaction by rewarding him for his goodness.

But suddenly, in the last verse, a change comes over the singer and he ends the psalm with the calmly radiant statement: "I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness." When he is spiritually awake, fully aware and completely conscious, he will see the face of God, for to the awakened soul, the likeness of God appears throughout His Creation, and everything the singer sees becomes a divine manifestation. If the singer awakens, he will see that the LORD has been beside him, around him, and within him at all times and that he was never alone or abandoned, merely asleep. He will see that those he views as his enemies also partake of divinity and are made in the image of God, each bearing a unique seal of His creative power. His enemies will cease to be his enemies. In his sleeping state, the singer has assumed that his own goodness merits reward, while the actions of his enemies merits punishment, but when he is awake he will see that there is really very little difference between him and his fellows, as they are all children of the same God and each animated by His divine breath. The world and its inhabitants are God's mirror, and His likeness is reflected in its various forms, each varied and individual, but each bearing the stamp of His Presence. When the soul is awake, we may see God's likeness in any direction we turn.

1 comment:

MattM said...

Wonderful thoughts. I love this passage as well. Your post made me remember this thread (http://feastuponthewordblog.org/2007/06/30/habakkuk-complaint-as-praise/) addressing the theme of "complaint as praise"--with an Old Testament emphasis. I enjoyed the thoughts and think that that theme could be more heavily emphasized sometimes to allow room for questioning and doubt while remaining faithful.