Have you read the psalms recently?
An ancient hymn book, full of messages celebrating privilege. Celebrating a relationship with God who is on OUR side. The one who will kick ass on our behalf.
Of course, there is so much more than that in this wonderful ancient poetry – lament, hope, beauty, thankfulness, stillnes – but on one level, they were written as Israel-first propganda.
The danger is that we adopt them as a personal me-first version of the same.
Consider the most famous of them all, psalm 22. We wheel it out when we need it, like some kind of holy comfort blanket. It is beautiful, full of hope and assurance, offering us the hope of God on our side. I read it over and over this week because I am preparing to lead the funeral of a dear friend of ours.
We will desperately need psalm 22.
Beyond this, I found myself wondering what else this psalm had to say to me right now, and wrote this poem.
If God is my shepherd, why worry?
Why let anxiety crack the night?
Why let fear of failure pin me
Like a blunt spear?
If I lie down in green pastures
Why must I mortgage?
Why chase a wage?
Why scratch upwards for success?
If I am led beside still waters
Why must I stare into inky depth
And wonder when my ship
Will come in?
If I walk through darkest valleys
And still fear evil
Must I arm myself with
My very own rod and staff?
If God would load a table for me
In front of hungry enemies, could I eat?
For surely I’d be sick to my stomach
If I failed to share?
If anointed, what am I anointed for?
What makes me so special?
Is it because I am white, male, British?
What if I fall from favour?
If goodness and mercy follow after me
Is that like holy magic, or must I make it?
Is it a get-out-of-jail card or an invocation
To become a conduit for love?
If I am to dwell in the house of the Lord
Will my room have wifi and a good view?
Or will it be a shelter for the homeless where
Even people like me are welcome?