Tuesday, March 27, 2012


For great is thy loving-kindness toward me, and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest Sheol.  -- Psalm 86:13 (Darby)
I would call this passage a "coin verse."  It is a passage worthy of being placed in the palm of your hand and studied, or pondered; taking time with each side and slowly turning it over and over.  On its two sides rest all the basic tenets of faith. On one side is me, the personal concern for my future/my soul.  On the other side is the basic nature of God and the covenant relationship between me and God.  

Let's put a light on loving-kindness as that word speaks to what God has with each of us.  The word loving-kindness came about late -- in the mid-16th century.  One definition is "tender kindness...expressing affection." (Dictionary.com)  Other translations use mercy, love, or promise.  One could add agape or deep marriage-like covenant.  What do all of those words connote about God's greatness reaching toward us?  Turn the coin...

My soul slips from the grasp of this merciful hold occasionally, sometimes frequently.  It's been known to fall quite precipitously in bad moments to a Sheol.  Sheol is more of a dark or empty place.  Sheol is a term bound up with ancient Hebrew culture -- a place of afterlife, though more like a shadow-filled non-place/non-existence.  (Only more modern interpreters throw foreigners' cultural conceptions of a fiery hell into the mix.)  My sin, my preoccupations with myself, my worries will replace God's loving-kindness if I allow them to take over my thinking.  Deliverance from myself, from my penchant for thinking about me, me, and me comes about by turning the coin from myself back to reflection on the greatness of Loving-kindness toward me.  What worries, what selfish attention is occupying your words/thoughts pulling your soul from the grasp of Mercy?  Loving-kindness, deliverance, covenant, my soul...

My soul gives glory to my God for all the bountiful mercy and kindnesses extended through blessings on this sacred ground.  Hold me tightly in the sway of all the great promises bestowed by grace alone.  Amen.

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