Sing , O Heavens!


Here is a wonderful reflection for the end of a week, a week that may have been difficult, full of labor’s demands, and those of our various responsibilities. We are often worn out by the end of a week, but here in these words, we find reason for renewing joy and peace. As you read them, enter into the great silence of your own heart and contemplate them there in the presence of God.

ʺSong out, heavens, and rejoice, earth, break forth into song, you mountains, For the Lord comforts his people and shows mercy to his afflicted. But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of my hands I have engraved you; your walls are ever before me.ʺ

These are some to the tenderest words to be found in the Hebrew Testament. They give us reason to rejoice, just as the earth rejoices with its spring flowers after a deep and long winter. We can sing like the heavens as the sun rises rose-hewed over the eastern horizon after the dark of night, and the air resounds with birdsong. Or like the mountains, snow-capped and radiant in the morning sun. Why? Because God has shown himself and his love to us in the person of Jesus. He has comforted us with his Holy Spirit and shown his mercy to us, his afflicted ones. In doing so he has healed us and set us free from our self-inflicted burdens.

Still, we sometimes give in to our worries and doubts. We grow weary with life’s demands, and in our weakness we sometimes feel forsaken. In our troubles we can sometimes think that God has abandoned us. But, even though a mother might forget the child of her womb, God…O, listen to this…God will not forget us.

It is the following words that touch us so deeply in the center of our hearts: ʺSee, upon the palms of my hands I have engraved you; you are before me always.ʺ How personal! How tender! Do you not remember the first one you ʺfellʺ in love with? How you wrote his or her name on the palm of your hand, how you carved his or her name into the bark of a tree, so that you always had him or her ʺbefore you,ʺ in your mind. That person has probably faded deep into the background now, or been forgotten completely. But God, who created you in your mother’s womb, who made your soul to be a dwelling place for his Spirit, has you before him, in every moment, in every place. Listen. He is whispering his Word of love into you at all times. He is always ready to comfort you, to forgive and to heal your afflictions. Turn to him. Enter into the great silence of your heart, your soul, and be with him there. He will give you the rest that you need.

If you listen closely you will hear him greeting you, just as the disciples did so often after the Resurrection. Hear him as he says, ʺPeace be with you, my peace I give to you. Rest, and know that I am your God. Remember, I have engraved your name on the palm of my hand. You are always before me.ʺ 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.
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