Welcome to our Lenten retreat for 2015. Our theme this year is “Songs for Your Life: Lenten Psalms.”
Psalm 33 is a hymn of ancient Israel. We begin the week with several portions of it:
The word of the LORD is upright,
and all his work is done in faithfulness.
He loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of the steadfast love of the LORD.
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made,
and all their host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle;
he put the deeps in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the LORD;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him.
For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
The LORD brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
he frustrates the plans of the peoples.
The counsel of the LORD stands for ever,
the thoughts of his heart to all generations.
Happy is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people whom he has chosen as his heritage.
. . . Our soul waits for the LORD;
he is our help and shield.
Our heart is glad in him,
because we trust in his holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.
This psalm gives us a frame, a context in which to place our faith. First of all, it identifies the God we trust as one who is faithful, righteous, just, and the source of all being. If we are not standing in awe of this One, then it’s time to adjust our viewpoint.
God’s power and purpose override other factors, such as the counsel of nations and the plans of people. God’s truth stands through eternity. If we can begin to establish this as our perspective, we can perhaps learn to trust this One.
And, because God is God, and we’re not, our souls wait for God’s actions—for help and protection. And we ask that this steadfast love hover over our lives.
What this psalm reminds me of is the First Principle and Foundation in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Ignatius knew that people need the right starting point if they are to relate to the Divine in a healthy, growing way. We must begin to grasp who God is and who we are and how we relate to the God who created us.
This kind of psalm speaks in vast general terms; its purpose is not to answer our philosophical questions or to solve our theological problems. This psalm asks us to trust that the One who created the universe by speaking a word also has loving intentions for us; this God has chosen us. And if we can begin to believe that, our faith can grow.
Can you take a chance to believe at least some phrases from this ancient hymn?
Do you have a favorite line or phrase?
Is there a specific line or phrase that resonates with you today?