New Insight On An Old Psalm

Today’s passage is stunning. It is a very mature statement of faith. It is a humble invitation to God to accompany us within, into the quiet space of our own hearts and minds, indeed, our very souls. There are only two beings in all of creation who can enter that secret place: ourselves and our God, the one who created us as utterly unique individuals.

This psalm is the appeal by one who is already strong in faith, who knows that God knows all things, both those things that we keep secret even from our closest relationships, and especially those personal faults that we, for one reason or another, remain ignorant of in our lives. It is a prayer of complete and utter faith in God’s love and his unrelenting and perfect concern for our well-being. It is also a humble recognition that one needs God to show one where and how one has gone astray, especially out of ignorance. It is an act of humility to realize this need for God’s mercy, and to realize that, in one’s smallness, one really can invite the infinite One into one’s own personal life in such an intimate way.

This psalm recognizes the infinite power, as well as the infinite goodness of God. The psalmist’s words are full of profound humility in the face of what he has come to realize about God and God’s nature. It is an awe inspired declaration of the intimate presence of God in all of his creation, but especially of his intimate concern for us, his children. Because of this, it is ultimately a love poem to God. It is a recognition of the saving power that is in God’s infinite, compassionate love. It is an expression of the awe that one feels when one finally realizes, with absolute and stunning clarity, that one is loved unconditionally by the other. When this realization occurs, all of the defensive walls one has built to protect oneself from potential pain, collapse. One is moved, then, to “take the risk” of inviting the other into the innermost depths of one’s self, to be known intimately by the other. And who is it that loves us so? God alone!

The psalm is also a humble realization that, no matter how bright I am, no matter how powerful I may be in this world, I am neither smart enough nor powerful enough on my own to find the true path that is “the way everlasting.” I know that I need God, that my vaunted intellect with all of its capaciousness, is not enough. But, at the same time, I am also stunned by the fact that I am loved by this God who is, at once, great beyond my understanding and, yet, is intimately concerned with me. Though David is a king, he knows that he is nothing without God’s love. He knows that he is weak, that his heart can be stubborn, that his thoughts can sometimes wander away from the path of righteousness, and that he is always in need of God’s guidance. This prayer of David is our prayer. Let us meditate on it with humble hearts and minds.

Lord, I know not how it is that you would make yourself small enough to enter under the roof of this hovel that is my soul, but I ask you to do so with all of the humility I can muster. Enter me, Lord. Sweep my soul clean, for I am a sinner in need of your great mercy. Light the darkness within me. Give me the graces that I need to be able to rise up onto my feet this day and to begin walking in your ways that are everlasting. It is in your name, Jesus, that I pray. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.