November 27, 2020

I Make the Sun Rise

My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make melody. Awake, my soul! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn.✝︎ I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples, and I will sing praises to you among the nations. 
Ps 108:1-3
Older translations of this psalm render the second clause of verse 2 something like, I will awake early. Well, that's fine, I suppose. But the NRSV is a better representation of the Hebrew אָעִירָה שָּׁחַר, which actually means, I'll wake up the dawn. This reminds me of the Prayer of the Rooster in the wonderful book Prayers from the Ark*—
Do not forget, Lord,
it is I who make the sun rise.
I am your servant,
but, with the dignity of my calling
I need some glitter and ostentation.
Noblesse oblige...
All the same,
I am your servant.
Only, do not forget, Lord,
I make the sun rise.
Amen.
We may laugh at this little prayer, but from the rooster's perspective, I'm sure it's true. He's doing his duty, and he's getting results. Dogs have a similar opinion of their abilities: They bark at the letter carrier to keep them from invading the house, and from their perspective they have a 100% success rate.

I don't think David literally thought he could make the day dawn with his gratitude. But maybe the constancy of his heart yielded such regularity of early morning thanksgiving that he equated his singing with the rising of the sun. Is that so bad? What if my heart were so constant and my devotion so regular that I could not separate the concept of sunrise (or sunset) from my expressions of gratitude to God?

Sometimes it seems that my fellow Americans only want the sun to rise once a year, when we show give thanks on the fourth Thursday in November. Perhaps as much as showing our gratitude today, we should commit to not letting a sunrise pass without rising early to thank God for all we have received on a daily basis.
  
May your steadfastness inspire such constant gratitude in me, that the sun never rises on my indifference, but always on my thankful praise; in his Name who taught me to pray: Our Father...


✝︎Psalm 57:8 is similar to Psalm 108:2, and I meditated on that verse in a slightly different way on July 12.
*Originally published in 1947 by Carmen Bernos de Gasztold, these prayers were translated into English by Rumer Godden.