Scripture Reading Psalm 63:1-8
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. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.
My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips when I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
Message “My Soul Clings to You” Rev. James. Renfrew
In our kitchen we have a refrigerator. Of course, we use it all of the time, first thing in the morning, late at night, and in-between. It is an essential appliance, because it keeps our food fresh and prevents spoiling. Our fridge appears to be breaking down, so we have no choice but to get a new one soon. We can’t live without a fridge! Plus, orange juice always tastes a lot better when chilled.
But there’s a problem here: I know very little about how our fridge actually works. Sure, I know it has to be plugged in to work, but exactly how does the inside of the refrigerator stay cold, even on a very hot day? It has something to do with a compressor, refrigerant, and cooling coils. But it’s really a mystery to me.
Refrigerators I don’t know a lot about, but the Bible is something I do know about, so today I want to talk about Psalms, not refrigerators. We are reading s Psalm every Sunday leading up to Easter, so let’s learn how psalms work, figure out what they do, and put them to work in our lives.
In our Bibles we have a Book of Psalms. It’s found in the Old Testament, which means that they were old even in Jesus’ time, written hundreds, maybe a thousand years before he was born. I learned a long time ago that if you open your Bible as close as you can to the middle of the book you will be at the Psalms. Let’s try it with the pew Bible.1-2-3, open! There are 150 psalms. The shortest, Psalm is #117, just two verses. Psalm 119 is the longest with 176 verses. I’ve memorized Psalm 117, “Praise the Lord, all you nations! Extol him, all you peoples! 2 For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord! Psalm 119 I doubt I will ever try to memorize those 176 verses!
So what, exactly, is a Psalm? You could say that psalms are poetry, you could say that psalms are songs. You might even make the case that psalms are ancient rap and hip hop because of the use of repetitive rhymes and phrasing. Some psalms are filled with praise, like Psalm 63 that we are reading this morning. Some psalms are filled with weeping, some with love, some with anger, some with hopes and dreams, some seeking vengeance. Psalm 119 is actually sort of an acrostic puzzle, with each section beginning in alphabetical order with letters from the Hebrew alphabet, alef, beth, gimel, daleth, and so on.
What I find most powerful about the psalms is that they help us express the inexpressible, give voice to the voiceless, put a song in the heart of those who cannot sing, and proclaim hope to the hopeless. These psalms are powerful stuff!
And that brings us to Psalm 63. The title of my message comes from the last verse of Psalm 63, “My soul clings to you”. Let’s look at the whole thing, not just the last line!
From start to finish, this Psalm 63 is all about yearning. So stop right there and think about something you have yearned for: a cold drink on a hot day, for the presents you hope to receive at your next birthday, for reciprocated love, for peace in time of brutal war. Think about what you have yearned for in your life, then think about what yearning for God would be like. It’s like being thirsty, hungry and tired, and trusting that God will provide for your deepest needs. Yes, food and drink, but also so much more. It’s hoping for something that seems beyond our reach. It’s hoping for love, acceptance, forgiveness, meaning, purpose and love. It’s yearning for evidence of the holy in a time of faithlessness. The world may be shattered by war and injustice, but still you yearn for all that is holy. In time of war, you still yearn for love and peace. In deep shadows, you yearn for the light that God offers.
If you are looking for God, if you are looking for assurance of God’s love and care, this psalm is a very good place to start. It turns out that God can be found right where you are, right in the middle of all of the things bearing down on you or troubling you. To prove this, next time you are in deep trouble or worry, read Psalm 63, and, as you read it, I hope you will come to know that God is not far away, but right where you are.
Psalm 63 is much like a Prayer Shawl. When you wrap yourself in one it is a reminder that God is close by. If you have a Prayer Shawl, you could read Psalm 63 as it holds you.
Now that final verse, “my soul clings to you”. I love the picture that I found for the bulletin cover, of the little girl clinging to a tree. To me it means that you don’t need to have all the right the words, you don’t need to know the right notes of the song, but you simply cling to God in time of need.
As we continue on our journey with Jesus to the Cross, we may not understand all of the ins and outs of Christian faith and practice, but we can at least cling to God. It’s a good place to start, it’s a good place to be, and it’s a good place to spend eternity!
I can’t explain how a refrigerator works, but I know how to cling!