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
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.
The wicked walk with heads held high
rejoicing in the destruction of the righteous
They delight in inflicting pain
on the ones who would
do all that they can to
alleviate the pains of others
they gather in secret councils
to plot ways to do more evil
How long O LORD
will the wicked have their way?
how long will You allow them
to glut themselves
on the misery of the upright?
Come near O LORD
expose the wicked for who they are
expose their lies and bring Your divine justice
Restore the righteous
who have been unfairly trampled
for You are no lover of evil
but You take pleasure in those
who serve you
written for my friends SH and DH…and for their friends KR and KR, PR, GR, and LR…and all others in their community who are suffering right now. God knows the details better than any of us. He holds you in his hands!
You are quiet
Your voice I hear not
And in silence I suffer
Longing to hear you once again
O why do you keep your lips pressed closed
When I am drowning in the quiet
And a word from you would be
Breath in my lungs to sustain me?
It is not so much your reticence that
Has doomed me to suffer this disquieting quiet
But my own foolishness
For when you have spoken I have not been keen to listen
Release me from this hostile peace
And I will open my ears to hear
a free verse sonnet for dVerse
Why do I cast my gaze downward
when troubles come my way?
When tormentors seem to come
from every side,
why do I despair?
I retreat like a turtle
within his shell when
the wicked come my way
even though I long to
stretch my wings and soar
high above these earthly trials.
But no longer shall my eyes be downcast,
for I know where I might seek help
and in whom I can take refuge.
I lift up my eyes to the mountains
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD
The maker of heaven and earth.
Italicized portion of my poem is Psalm 121:1-2 (NIV)
Written for dVerse, where Lynn has asked us to use mountains as our inspiration. Mountains and poetry made me think of Psalm 121 (a song of ascents).