July 18, 2020

Confront the World

Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I; for you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
—Psalm 61:1-3

There's a well-known passage in Exodus (ch. 33) where Moses encounters God on a mountaintop. Moses asks to see God's glory, but of course this was not possible—no one can survive the sight of God's full glory. And so God hides Moses in the cleft of the rock, keeping him safe until Moses is permitted just to glimpse God's back. Even then, Moses is visibly transformed, and the people are afraid of his appearance when he descends the mountain.

Contrast this to the opening of Psalm 61, where we find a desperate believer who feels very far from God. It is clear that this person feels the threat of human enemies, but instead of praying to be hidden safely away in the cleft of a rock, the prayer is to be set atop an outcrop, towering over those doing the threatening.

There are many differences here, of course, but the one that strikes me most can be boiled down to: humility before God, courage before other people. A week ago, I wrote about how hiding beneath God's wings was a extraordinary and temporary state for a believer. We are not called to hide from the world, but to live in it, and—if necessary—confront it. And here in Psalm 61, we see someone who, despite their fear, nonetheless prays for the kind of safety that also allows them to confront the world around them.

May this be my prayer as well...

I pray, O God, for security. But may my safety not remove me from a world that needs to hear my voice, but place me in a position to speak truth to power. Though I be a pilgrim on earth, may I nonetheless use my time here to make peace, work for justice, and speak truth; in Jesus' Name, who taught me to pray: Our Father...

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