A Psalm of David, when he was in the Wilderness of Judah.
Notice that this opening explains why this Psalm is assigned in Lent. Lenten journeys are traditionally based on Jesus’ “temptation” in the “wilderness”/desert. This Psalm places King David, father of Solomon and progenitor of the Davidic/Messianic line (of which Jesus is a part) in the same wilderness generations before.
Biblical Wilderness experiences/desert times have an anticipated yield: some form of clarity or spiritual connection. What follows are some questions inspired by this beautiful Psalm that might help us to find greater clarity in our own Lenten journeys.
Consider this: what is our own wilderness space? Where is a place in which we can draw ourselves out of our routines for the sake of the space and quiet we need for clarity and divine connection? Is this something we have ever experienced? Is it something we want?
The Psalm begins:
1 O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
The Psalmist’s longing is so palpable, the soul is in a desert space, yearning for a drink from God’s spirit. Have you ever experienced such longing? Just the image resonate?
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
The sanctuary, or the place of worship, is so often designed to visually represent God’s power and glory. Is such a representation important to you? When you find yourself in need of God experience, do you look for visual cues like the majesty enthroned in soaring sanctuary spaces (like Plymouth’s)?
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on your name.
In a rapidly changing world, the idea of God’s “steadfastness” or unchangeability resonates with the Psalmist in a number of Psalms. Does it bring you comfort to think of God as steadfast and resolute? What difference does it make that the Psalmist, here, refers not to God as steadfast but God’s love as steadfast?
5 My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,*
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
What shape does your praise of God take in your own life? Is it a story you often tell? A feeling you often share? Why or why not?
6 when I think of you on my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
Is there something precious, special, peculiar about God-thoughts that you have in the quiet of rest? What do they look like? Can you recall dreaming about God? Another way of asking this is if you see any communication between you and God in your rest?
7 for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
How has God been your help? Have you felt sheltered or protected by God? Would you consciously claim that your “soul clings to” God? What might that look like? Is this something for which you yearn?
Prayer: God bless the parched places, the quiet spaces, the wilderness graces in our crazy, beautiful lives. Amen