The Psalm is a prayer of confidence in the activity of God in a person’s life. It is perhaps possible to imagine the Psalmist reflecting back over a period of time, thinking about the events of his life and his sense of the presence, and absence, of God during the passage of time. God as teacher and the One who forgives are prominent themes throughout the Psalm and although the Psalm narrates a deeply personal faith experience, the Psalmist concludes by looking outwards to his community and asks for salvation for Israel. We get a sense that it is important to the Psalmist that he does not ‘let God down’ and the opening and closing of the Psalm reinforce the importance of trust and hope in God.
I suspect that many of us will have had similar faith experiences to the Psalmist. If we stop to reflect there will have been times when we are keenly aware of God’s presence and times when we feel God is absent. We will have shared that sense of not wanting to ‘let God down’, but will also know there are many times when we have done just that and we have asked for forgiveness. Throughout our faith journeys have trust and hope been the dominant motifs?
As part of a recent sabbatical I did a mindfulness course. Although a secular course I found it to be an enriching part of my own spirituality and I am continuing to practise mindfulness as a spiritual discipline. Those who use it from a faith perspective often use the silence in a way similar to the Psalmist, to reflect upon life’s experiences and notice the dominant themes in life. An image which frequently comes in my experience is of being securely held by the love of God, just as a coracle holds a person safe while being buffeted by the wind and waves.
Whatever this day has in store for you, why not follow the example of the psalmist and take time to stop and reflect on your own faith experience, thanking God for God’s presence in your life and noticing the importance of trust and hope?
O God in the quietness of these few minutes Help me to still my body, mind and soul and consciously turn to you. May I be open to your presence in my life; may I feel your love holding me in this present moment; and may trust and hope guide me all my future days.
The Rev’d Lindsey Sanderson is minister of the East Kilbride and Hamilton Joint Pastorate in the National Synod of Scotland.
Psalmody and Praise Committee, Free Church of Scotland, 15 North Bank Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2LS.