Oh dear readers, why did I choose this Psalm? That any writer could call themselves righteous is beyond me, and how on earth could any of us say that we have kept apart from the ways of sin? Then there’s the apple of the Lord’s eye bit! We like to imagine that we are the apple of God’s eye. But. Wait. There is the ‘even the hairs on your head are numbered’ bit from Jesus, saying in different words that we are all apples of God’s amazing eye. Hm, perhaps the too righteous one here is me? Thinking how could another call themselves righteous, when it is my self-righteousness that is doing this name-calling?
This Psalmist makes a plea to be put right with God, to be examined and known, appealing to be the apple of God’s eye and therefore worthy of protection. First reading could show a puffed up-with-self-presumption writer, but deeper reading reveals a fearful human, worried about almost everything, seeing evil all around, desperate for God’s care. Here is a faithful human, naming God’s provision for others and desperately hoping to receive the same, so perhaps, perhaps tomorrow, fear goes away.
This appeal to receive the same mercy as others goes deep. It is deeper than the cry of ‘why me?’ It is a cry of ‘why can’t my life be treated with the same value as theirs?’ It is the cry of my brown and black family, the wail of my sisters and brothers and partners and neighbours all saying – ‘why won’t you protect me, too?’ We each may own this cry to God for ours and for other’s lives. And we and you and I and all of us from anywhere need to prepare to be God’s very active answer, fruitful in justice.
Dearest God who loves us all whether we like it or not, open our minds and hearts more thoroughly than we have ever allowed. Don’t shield us from what we need to know about ourselves and need to see from other people’s eyes. Humble us then drag us into courage to act. We trust you. Amen.
The Rev’d Elizabeth Gray-King, Education & Learning Programme Officer, member St Columba’s Oxford