This psalm is a cry of joy for divine guidance and deliverance.
Come and hear, you who fear our maker, as I tell how God rescued my soul
I cried to God and was answered; God’s praise is ever on my lips (vv. 8, 9)
The psalmist feels that he has been pulled through the briar bush backwards, expressing that experience somewhat more elegantly as being ‘tried as silver is tried’, rescued and refined.
In another image we have encountered previously, he feels downtrodden and ‘went through fire and water‘ (v. 12 – and two of the elemental foundations of our existence as seen by Aristotle) probably not as peaceful an experience as the illustration of the sun sinking quietly into the majestic Indian Ocean. And after that ordeal, God led him to ‘a spacious place’ (NRSV).
This is an enticing phrase – we relish somehow the idea of entering a spacious place. Architects live and breathe this idea, not because they are architects but because people feel comfortable and open in such a space. Other translations say ‘a place of refreshment’.
The water lifted itself up in a heap and gave a bow, and all Your people marched across on dry land
Music to suit this poem could be from a thousand angles. One source suggests songs as widely spread as ‘O little town of Bethlehem‘ and ‘All hail the power‘. Hmm; I’m still looking for good connections on those.
Far more cogently, Isaac Everett as usual in The Emergent Psalter has fresh ideas. He firstly invites us to sing one of his characteristically syncopated swings about the fire and water experience – an attractive option. Then another off-the-wall idea with Buffy the vampire slayer’s Walk through the fire.
Opting for familiarity and the residual glow of post-Easter rejoicing, the chosen antiphonal response is from PFAS 66A by Stephen Warner, which we sang in October 2013 but to a different selection of verses:
Cry out to God in joy all the earth, give glory to the name of the Lord.
Simplicity has its own power, and this is manifested in this response by overlaying a simple tune over alternating chords of F major and Eb major. The tune for the verses expands on this slightly.
Adding a little more fuel to the fire, it’s the last Sunday of the month so our male voice group, whom I thank warmly, will lead this psalm.