Sunday, November 18, 2018

Let Me Never Be Confounded

May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works—who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke.
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord. 

Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord!
Ps 104:31-35 

The final verse of Psalm 104 seems to be a rather ugly intrusion into an otherwise pleasant song of praise. But I want to put it in the context of verse 31, in which the psalmist prays that God will rejoice in all the glorious works proclaimed in this psalm. And when I look back even further, I remember how this same psalmist placed human creatures in the context of all other creatures, each one in its proper place, praising God by fulfilling God's purpose.

And yet, I know that there are many human creatures that are not satisfied with what God has apportioned them, that seek to knowingly destroy creation for their own selfish ends. Those who wrote the psalms never carried out such vindictive prayers on their own. They were simply pouring out their hearts to God. And here we see a faithful servant of God, distressed that so many fellow humans sought a place outside God's created order, praying that such wickedness would end. Maybe it's not the way I would state this prayer request. But I cannot condemn it, for I, too, pray daily for a time when God's will—and God's will alone—will be done on earth. Does that mean anyone's destruction? I do not know, I simply pray as I've been taught—by Jesus, no less.

O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us. O Lord, let thy mercy lighten upon us as our trust is in thee. O Lord, in thee have I trusted, let me never be confounded.
✙ closing lines of the Te Deum 

At the opening of this Psalm, I included a video of Arvo Pärt's haunting Te Deum. This morning, at the close of Psalm 104, I'll include Haydn's glorious Te Deum in C. Same text, very different interpretation: