An utterance of extreme fear . . .
The Psalmist begins his Psalm 32 in extreme fear. It overwhelms. It incapacitates. How has he come this far, only to be washed over, drowning, in fear. How many times have I uttered in extreme fear? Countless. I figure I am not alone, though when the fear attacks, and I am reeling from it, I feel very alone. The fear attacks my thoughts, and I am disabled by it. I don’t cry out vocally, but in my mind. The Psalmist reached out and sought succor from the Lord, as do I.
Thou art my strength and my refuge . . .
The Psalmist found God, His power, His promises, a recurrent house of refuge, a place to go for safety, for healing, for renewal. All life requires refuge. The challenges of the moment bring about demands for an adequate response of survival in the face of fear and dissolution, the enemies, the predators, the hunger and cold that arise in each and every moment, which force each individual to cry out in despair, to seek the help of the Lord, to retreat into the house of refuge, whether it be an actual or virtual place, of the body or the mind, where the enemy of time and place cannot penetrate and take hold.
Into Thine hands I will commit my spirit . . .
In the face of fear that threatens to shatter me, I will give myself to you, I will surrender to your love. In the quiet of the early morning when I am overwhelmed by images and thoughts I call out to God, and He responds, saying Accept.
God of truth . . .
The refuge of the Lord is truth. God is the absolute, the unwavering, the certain, the fortress of sameness that counters the contingent, the frivolous, the apparent chances of time and place, the falsehoods that dominate the moment. God’s truth is not a temple, or building of any kind, nor a cave, nor a place under the covers where one can hide and shut out fear. God’s truth is the spirit, the essence, that within us that is unchanging, the core of being, that which connects us to God, to the timeless, to Being itself. The challenge is to find it, to recur to it in times of fear.
Thou hast hated them that idly persist in vanities . . .
Contrary to truth are the frivolities of existence that excite, occupy the mind and body, form momentary shelters from the storms of terror. Running from the moment, from truth, hiding in the house of pleasure, the cave of folly, where titillating experiences act as a blinder, earmuffs, a box to retreat into and tape shut to avoid humiliation and pain, the dire straits of time and place. These temporary shelters for the homeless of spirit provide illusory warmth and protection from that which cannot be stopped, from an enemy of time that will break down any vain shelter that is not of the Lord’s.
I am afflicted . . .
How can it be so, when I know You, know Your truth, know Your presence. I am so weak. Where is my strength?
My life is spent with grief . . .
But how could it be so, when my life has been showered with goodness and love? How could I only see grief? Why am I so blinded? How can grief so overwhelm joy?
My bones are troubled . . .
My body aches because of the weight of time that I allow to oppress me, when the years should buoy me up with gladness for the many miracles and joys I have experienced. With age, the mind should overpower the body: why hasn’t it happened for me?
I became a reproach . . . and a fear to mine acquaintance . . .
So I imagine, and assume, that who would want to be near me who clouds the bright sun of love and hope with images of misery and doom.
A broken vessel . . .
I am cracked throughout. I seek mending.
They were gathered together against me . . .
Notwithstanding great words, wondrous thoughts, the Psalmist, like so many others, found emptiness, loneliness, uncertainty, staring him in the face. Time washed over the Psalmist constantly taking away resolutions and faithfulness. Doubt submerged him, fear overwhelmed him. And after feeling God’s nearness and wonderment he felt, in the next instant, nothing: affliction, pain, impoverishment, reproach; he was frightened, broken, censured, and plotted against.
My lots are in Thy hands . . .
All the Psalmist could do, in such times of despair, was give his lot, his time, the future, to God, place his past, present, and future into God’s hands and say, Here God, here I am, I put myself in your hands, I put my soul, my fate, my sin, my weakness, my folly, in your hands. Do what you will with them. Complete surrender. What else can a person do? If grand theories, and great philosophies, and the wisdom of the past, and the sublime words of preachers, had any effect, any staying power, then the affliction would vanish, the fear would subside, and peace and contentment would take the Psalmist to a new place.
How abundant is the multitude of Thy goodness . . .
If only I would recognize the good, ponder my blessings rather than the imaginary evil. Why won’t my mind, my thoughts, work for joy rather than sorrow?
Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee . . .
I fear everything, save God. I have it all wrong, opposite. I must go the opposite way. Fear God, not everything else that flutters about in the wind, bubbles that pop as soon as they pass by.
Thou wilt screen them in a tabernacle . . .
The new place, God’s shelter, His tabernacle in the words of the Psalmist, is where contentment and peace are found, but only for a moment. Then another moment comes, and the fear returns, and the despair and the hopelessness. But how wonderful is God, that the tabernacle is always open, a place of refuge always there, always apparent, in thoughts, in deep contemplation, in going within to find God’s peace.
In extreme fear . . .
Childlike, under God’s protection, the Psalmist, like myself, still cries out in extreme fear, an infant needing the succor of God’s blessings.
The Lord seeks for truth . . .
There is no falsehood in God, no deception in God’s tabernacle, no uncertainty in the refuge of the Lord. Time will not stand still, until death, when the frivolity, fear, absurdity, expressed so many times by the Psalmist, comes to an end, and there is a new beginning: of peace, contentment, sameness, certainty, truth, love.
Be of good courage.
Courage comes from embracing the Lord, embracing God’s love, and not slinking away from the consequences of love, which can instill utter fear. Love is not an easy path. Love is challenging. It brings despair. But it counters loneliness. And it is through love that a person discovers God.