“His speech is full of lies and browbeating, under his tongue lurk spite and wickedness”
What lurks in me? The anxiety and dread: “He keeps watch crouching down low, the poor wretch falls into his clutches.” This is what happens when I go into that cave from yesterday’s lectio, and I think I need to solve all my problems on my own. But I can’t; the temptation to succumb to the lies and browbeating is too great.
“You give them courage”. I need courage to trust you. You tell me when I ask “Why, Yahweh, do you keep so distant” that there is no distance between us. I only need to remember you, to call my awareness to the present where you are and where you say “I AM” – I AM is a present tense verb.
I spend most of my time in the future, consumed with anxiety and dread. When I see that cave, Lord, give me the courage to not go in and fall into its clutches. Give me courage to call on you so that I may turn away, trusting you with the dark and scary things that lurk in that cave beneath the water. Help me to develop and cultivate the habit of calling on you, and constantly remembering you.
Lectio NOW: Psalm 10 (November 5, 2010) New Jerusalem Bible
Why, Yahweh, do you keep so distant?
If I know someone is hiding, it makes me really nervous. Even if I know who it is, and even if they’re a loved-one, and even if it is all in good fun, I’m still nervous. It’s some deep, subterranean terror that takes over and all my rational faculties are powerless against it. From there, it’s one tiny step from fear to anger. When it is God that I sense to be hiding from me, it’s one tiny step from anger to apathy.
This psalm is full of contrasts between God and the wicked, distance and proximity, looking and hiding/turning away. The opening question is so human, and so easy to identify with: Why, Yahweh, do you keep so distant, stay hidden in times of trouble? Who has seen God come to immediate aid in times of trouble? Maybe some of us, but most often we’re left asking why?
A bit further on, I’m stung by verse four. The wicked in his arrogance does not look very far; “There is no God,” is his only thought. What is so striking to me is the contrast between the question in verse one about the ‘distance’ of God, and the wicked one who ‘does not look very far’.
Every contemplative (and wannabe-contemplative like me) will say that being aware is key to living a life in the presence of God. Because God is always right here, but stuff (and other “s” words) gets in the way. Seeing is a major human problem.
This psalm reminds me that my perception that God is hiding, isn’t the same as someone hiding who’s out to get me. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says that God won’t try to trick us by giving us a snake when we ask for a fish (Matthew 7.10). God does not aim to harm me. But that’s what I accuse him of when I can’t see him. Like the person whose eyes are only on his steps in verse five, I don’t see the judgment hanging right over my head.
And what is the judgment for me? Am I a wicked one? Sometimes, maybe. I can certainly be arrogant, trying to do everything on my own. And then God lets me try, and I bring judgment down on my own head, in sort of self-fulfilled prophecy. If I act as though I am alone, then I will most certainly experience it to be true.
This psalm doesn’t give us any real closure by showing God finally coming to the aid of the oppressed. It ends with a cry for justice, and maybe with an opportunity to choose a new way to see.