Psalm 16 (NRSV)
Verse 1Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
Verse 2I say to the Lord, "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you."
Verse 3As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight.
Verse 4Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names upon my lips.
Verse 5The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
Verse 6The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage.
Verse 7I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.
Verse 8I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Verse 9Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure.
Verse 10For you do not give me up to Sheol, or let your faithful one see the Pit.
Verse 11You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
When my first child was born, I was a mess. I stopped reading for pleasure and barely read for work, unable to focus on a plot line or retain a deep theological learning on so little sleep. Poetry and the Psalms were grace and balm for those years with babies. I could read one at first light and again during a late-night feeding, but the wonder went with me all day long.
I still find liberation and the courage to speak despair in the plain language of the Psalms that get raw and honest with God about suffering and isolation. This bold reverence comes through the poetry I write these days, including the longest blessing in my new book Ordinary Blessings. Just as Psalm 16 is filled with phrases about God’s provision and strength when everything else feels uncertain, we learn that God can take it! The psalmist is able to articulate what trusting God can do for both spirit and body, a relief that resonates in the fullness of one’s being. I like to think that my body was fed by the Psalms when my babies were new. And since I was feeding them with my body, the Psalms nourished them, too.
Incarnate God, your word is strength for our whole lives. We give thanks for the Psalms that teach us to pray and remind us who you are and whose we are. Amen.