“…How is it then you say to me, “Make your escape and like a bird for refuge to your mountain flee. For look, the wicked bend their bows, and on the string they set their dart; from shadows dark they aim and shoot at those who are upright in heart.” There is no escape for the person voicing this psalm. There is nowhere to run to. Even traveling in darkness, there is no way of fleeing without being fatally attacked. No escape.
No escape today… I think on people who at times feel clapped in the irons of mental illness, and others
held in humiliating stocks of poverty
No escape… I think of people bound tight by the fear of abuse, or stripped by horrors of war
No escape… I think of people boxed in by lack of self-confidence, or imprisoned by loneliness or anxiety
No escape… I think of our planet raped by human greed
No escape… from my dark fears and destructiveness
As one who knows the experience of having no escape, the Psalmist says “In the Lord, I take refuge.” The Psalmist cannot escape “the wicked” (who and whatever that represents) but the Lord is her/his refuge. In the midst of despair and fear, God holds hope and love alive for the psalmist, for all life.
This Psalm reminds me of a prayer of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who could not escape the concentration camp or the horrific effects of the Nazi regime, but who found refuge in God in the midst of it. May his prayer offer refuge, hope and direction, to all who feel there is no escape.
“In me there is darkness, But with You there is light; I am lonely, but You do not leave me; I am feeble in heart, but with You there is help; I am restless, but with You there is peace. In me there is bitterness, but with You there is patience; I do not understand Your ways, But You know the way for me.” “Lord Jesus Christ,
You were poor And in distress, a captive and forsaken as I am. You know all human troubles; You abide with me When all people fail me; You remember and seek me;
It is Your will that I should know You
And turn to You. Lord, I hear Your call and follow; Help me.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison
The Rev’d Fiona Bennett is minister of Augustine United Church in Edinburgh.