Friday, March 03, 2006

Wisdom speaks in poetry

Thinking of Scout's post yesterday, about the devastation of the 9th Ward in New Orleans (and let us not forget the destruction in Mississippi, too, and throughout southern Louisiana; not only what was south of NO, but what Rita did to the rest of the Louisiana and upper Texas coast), I was reading these psalms yesterday evening for daily prayers.

The words from Job seemed particularly apt.


Hurry, Lord! I call and call!
Listen! I plead with you.
Let my prayer rise like incense,
my upraised hands,
like an evening sacrifice.

Lord, guard my lips,
watch my every word.
Let me never speak evil
or consider hateful deeds,
letme join the wicked
to eat their lavish meals.

If the just correct me
I take their rebuke as kindness,
but the unction of the wicked
will never touch my head.
I pray and pray
against their hateful ways.

Let them be thrown
against a rock of judgment,
then they will know
I spoke the truth.

Then they will say,
"Our bones lie broken upon the ground,
scattered at the grave's edge."

Lord my God, I turn to you,
in you I find safety.
Do not stip me of life.
Do not spring on me
the traps of the wicked.
Let evildoers get tangled
in their own nets,
but let me escape.


You search me, Lord, and know me.
Wherever I sit or stand,
you read my inmost thoughts;
whenever I walk or rest,
you know where I have been.
Before a word slips from my tongue,
Lord, you know what I will say.
You close in on me,
pressing your hand upon me.
All this overwhelms me-
too much to understand!

Where can I hide from you?
How can I escape your presence?
I scale the heavens, you are there!
I plunge to the depths, you are there!

If I fly toward the dawn,
or settle across the sea,
even there you take hold of me,
your right hand directs me.

If I think night will hide me
and darkness give me cover,
I find darkness is not dark.
For your night shines like day,
darkness and light are one.

You created every part of me,
knitting me in my mother's womb.
For such handiwork, I praise you.
Awesome this great wonder!
I see it so clearly!

You watched every bone
taking shape in secret,
forming in the hidden depths.
You saw my body grow
according to your design.

You recorded all my days
before they ever began.
How deep are your thoughts!
How vast their sum!
like countless grains of sand,
well beyond my grasp.

Lord, destroy the wicked,
save me from killers.
They plot evil schemes;
they blaspheme against you.

How I hate those who hate you!
How I detest those who defy you!
I hate with a deadly hate
these enemies of mine.

Search my heart, probe me, God!
Test and judge my thoughts.
Look! do I follow crooked paths?
Lead me along your ancient way.

Job 11:5-6, 7-9, 13, 15-18

But oh, that God would speak
and open lips to you
and would tell you the secrets of wisdom!
For wisdom is many-sided.
Can you find out the deep things of God?
Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?
It is higher than heaven-what can you do?
Deeper than Sheol-what can you know?
Its measure is longer than the earth
and broader than the sea.

If you direct your heart rightly,
you will stretch out your hands toward God.
Surely then you will lift up your face without blemish;
you will be secure, and will not fear.
You will forget your misery;
you will remember it as waters that have passed away.
And your life will be brighter than the noonday;
its darkness will be like the morning.
And you will have confidence, because there is hope;
you will be protected and take your rest in safety.

(silent reflection)

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