May 20, 2020

I Will Not Say the Day Is Done

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your judgments are like the great deep; you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.
—Psalm 36:5-6

I love this part of Psalm 36. It speaks of the vastness of God's love, faithfulness, goodness, and justice. But I usually think of it out of context. Before I get to the beauty of verses 5-6, I first encounter the first four verses:

Transgression speaks to the wicked deep in their hearts; there is no fear of God before their eyes.
For they flatter themselves in their own eyes that their iniquity cannot be found out and hated.
The words of their mouths are mischief and deceit; they have ceased to act wisely and do good.
They plot mischief while on their beds; they are set on a way that is not good; they do not reject evil.
—Psalm 36:1-4 

So I suppose there's an intentional comparison of heaven and earth. Or, more to the point, our present reality in time and God's reality in eternity are being contrasted.

The 36th Psalm's opening causes to me to ask a question of myself, and it's from there that I think the whole thing proceeds: What speaks to my heart? In many human hearts, the language spoken and understood is based on a dialect of greed or power. In some others, it is a language of abuse and oppression and warfare. Once false values become the lingua franca of a person's inner thoughts, evil has won the hour, and probably the day—but not the war.

In some hearts (I hope many hearts) the language of God is still spoken. And it's a language of vast love and deep justice. It towers far above the priorities of this world, and it cannot help but conquer in the end.

For some reason, as I'm pondering these verses I'm reminded of Samwise Gamgee, my favorite character in The Lord of the Rings [J.R.R. Tolkien]. At one point, all seems to be lost: pure evil has won and Sam has given up. All alone in the stronghold of the enemy, he loses hope. But suddenly, unbidden, a song comes to his lips—words he did not know he knew —and so he sings with a voice that he did not think he could muster:
In western lands beneath the Sun the flowers may rise in Spring, the trees may bud, the waters run, the merry finches sing. Or there maybe 'tis cloudless night and swaying beeches bear the evening* stars as jewels white amid their branching hair.  
Though here at journey's end I lie in darkness buried deep, beyond all towers strong and high, beyond all mountains steep, above all shadows rides the Sun and Stars forever dwell: I will not say the Day is done, nor bid the Stars farewell.
When I compare and contrast my present situation—the world's present situation—with the immensity of God, may heart find heaven's language to address the needs of earth, and may my lips sing a song of hope even in the depths of despair.

Give me a tongue to sing your song, O God, and give me ears to understand your language. Thus may your reality be mine, and may my values be transformed. I pray this in Jesus' Name, who taught me to pray: Our Father...

*"Elven" in the original

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