Psalm 8 is probably my favourite of all of the Psalms. I love the night sky (especially on those rare occasions when I can get far enough away from light pollution to truly see it! This psalm always brings to mind the countless stars, and other astronomical wonders such as the Northern Lights.
However, as I meditated on this psalm in preparation to write this poem, verse 2 really caught my attention. The NIV (1985 edition) reads this way,
From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger
This verse caused me to think about the wonder that children have in the world. Things that I take for granted, a child sees with wonder. I think it is probably easier for a child to praise God, because they can so clearly see the beauty in all that God as made!
The following poem is a Rondeau, and it is my thoughts on how children see the world
A child’s eyes are eyes that see
the world in all it’s majesty
a puddle’s worthy of the news
and life’s a mystr’y filled with clues
those eyes are awed so easily!
most adults, though, aren’t half so free
to see things as they’re meant to be
what is it, then, that makes us lose
a child’s eyes?
Lord, I confess, I’ve lost that glee
It faded from me by degree
from children, let me take my cues
so that my sight I’ll truly use!
Lord, once again, please grant to me
a child’s eyes
I love writing sonnets, but typically use the Elizabethan (Shakespearean ) style. Today I decided to write a Petrarchan (Italian) sonnet instead. This is my poetic response to Psalm 7, but it is not the Psalm itself. I would encourage you to read Psalm 7 in the translation of your choice.
I’ve also included a musical version of the Psalm by the group Poor Bishop Hooper for your enjoyment.
Most stealthily the lion stalks her prey
She cares not that her quarry would be free
An unsuspecting meal’s all she can see
And she’s determined it not get away
Her teeth and claws designed to tear and slay
The thought of fresh meat fills her heart with glee
And now: her quarry sees her; tries to flee
But can it run to live another day?
LORD save me from the wicked who pursue
Though i am innocent they claim my guilt
And like the lion they care for me not
Therfore in my distress I turn to you
Look through the flimsy case that they have built
And then turn back on them their evil plot
Here is my poetic response to Psalm 6. Following the poem, I have added a YouTube link to a musical rendition of this Psalm by the group Sons of Korah. My wife introduced me to this band’s music, and I think that the tone they set for their cover of Psalm 6 is absolutely wonderful. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Oh LORD, you know that I am weak
temptation often masters me
and even when it’s good I seek
sin in my life is what I see
How can I face your holiness
when willfully I’ve left your path
I know LORD that my life’s a mess
and I deserve your righteous wrath
But can I praise you when I’m dead
if you destroy this sinful man?
LORD hear me groaning from my bed
and please forgive me if you can…
You can and have! Oh LORD my God!
I know my prayer is heard by you
You love me even though I’m flawed
you make me whole as though brand new!
When my children were younger, my wife and I taught them to recite Psalm 4:8 as part of their bedtime routine. “I go to bed and sleep in peace, because, LORD, only you keep me safe.” (New Century Version). This is a promise that I still often repeat…especially if I am facing stress or worries.
In this psalm, The Psalmist speaks of enemies and their lies, but also speaks of how he is able to sleep in peace because of the confidence he has in God. I wanted to reflect that in today’s poem. The last 2 lines of my poem repeat (as closely as I could stay to the NCV rendering as I could within my chosen meter) and expand upon Psalm 4:8. The form of the poem is called a “Fourteener” as there are 14 syllables per line.
To sleep in peace, Lord, Ah! That is a treasure worth much more
than all the gold and riches that the evil have in store
They scheme and plot to try to steal the things another built,
but in the end they only gain an ever deep’ning guilt!
Lord, what I have may be no more than I need to get through,
yet I have joy, for I have found contentment’s found in you!
“I go to bed and sleep in peace”, I need not fear the night
“For only you, Lord, keep me safe” until the morning light
As I read through and meditated on Psalm 3, I kept being drawn back to verses 4-6,
“I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.
I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands
assail me on every side.” (NIVUK)
My poetic response, therefore, is based on these 3 verses. I tried to write a poem that has the feel of a children’s poem.
A little child in his bed
Had scary dreams go through his head
That had him wake up in a fright
How horrifying seemed that night!
But Daddy soon was by his side
“My son I heard you when you cried,
So tell me now what visions keep
You from enjoying restful sleep?”
A warm hug made fear’s tremors cease
And soon the child was at peace
He knew his Daddy’s love was sure
And so he fell asleep secure
The child could be you or me
The nightmare: trials that we see
Daddy is our God above
Let’s rest – secure in His love.
My response to Psalm 2 is a slightly modified villanelle form
Rise up oh nations. Rage and march to war
Rebel against the Most High if you dare!
Wage your battles before you are no more
What is it about goodness you abhor
That you plot violence in your hidden lair…
Why nations, do you rage and march to war?
Your plans are foolish – facts that you ignore
Your force is weaker than you are aware
(So) wage your battles before you are no more
God’s laughter shakes the world down to its core
His wrath is kindled, peoples, so beware
Oh nations, must you rage and march to war?
Like a clay pot that’s thrown to the floor
Will be your army: shattered earthenware
Wage your battles before you are no more
Turn to the one the whole earth should adore
Lest God, to you in anger should declare:
“Rise up, oh nations. Rise and march to war.
Wage your battles. Soon you will be no more.”
I am going to attempt to write poetic responses to the Palms, hopefully posting one on most Sundays until i have worked through all 150 of them. Today’s poem is a response to Psalm 1
Prevent me, Lord, becoming like the chaff:
that worthless stuff the wind blows far away
Let me not mock along when scoffers laugh
nor with the wicked, Lord, let me not play
Instead, by streams of water let me grow
that i may bear abundant fruit for You
Teach me your precepts, Lord, that i may know
what’s right, what’s holy, beautiful, and true.
Hard work is needed for a crop to thrive,
and this labour does not instantly yield
results. It would be wrong, though, to arrive
at the conclusion: “toiling in this field
has no value.” Ask The Farmer who’s gone
through this process year after year. He’ll say
to you, “wait a week, then look once more on
this piece of earth. It won’t stay like today,
and in a few months you’ll see golden grain
where now you can only see the soil.
Wait for the results of the sun and rain
then enjoy the results of your toil.”
Although sometimes it may seem oh so slow
Those seeds that fall on fertile land will grow!
At Hades’ Gate they stood in wait
They knew the Persian host was great
A million strong was Xerxes’ throng
The Spartan men all knew their fate
“One hundred plus to each of us”
Were odds that they did not discuss
Their force was small but they stood tall
At Hades’ Gate they made no fuss
With sword and shield they held the field
For seven days they did not yield
With spear and bow they slew their foe
Perhaps their fate was not so sealed!
But out of dread one lone Greek fled
Into the Persian camp and said
“Spare me today, I know a way”
And to a different path he led
Without a sound the foe went ’round
And thus the Spartan army found
The Persian horde, like water poured
It covered ev’ry inch of ground
There is no doubt it was a rout
The Greeks though fought with wild shout
Until, tis said, they all were dead
Scarlet the ground from blood spilled out
Thermopylae, the poets say
Was more than tragic loss that day
The bards all sing, their voices ring
Of heroes headed Hades’ way
sky dims in the west
as the sun lays down to rest
– white hare forages