Psalm 31 is one of those psalms that expresses best the paradox of the whole psalter: that even when we feel like we are falling apart we are still held together by God, even when we cry to God that we have been forgotten, God still remembers us. So even though the psalmist tells God exactly how he is feeling:
I am clean forgotten, as a dead man out of mind: I am become like a broken vessel.
he can still come in the same psalm to the great ‘nevertheless’ on which so many of the psalms often turn:
Nevertheless, thou heardest the voice of my prayer: when I cried unto thee.
But the other phrase in this psalm which it seemed to me really spoke into our time as I prayed it was in verse 15: ‘fear is on every side’
Perhaps because the psalmist is honest about this fear he finds that God has an answer for it and gives us that mysterious and beautiful verse in which he reveals that God has a secret meeting place with all of us who trust him even in the midst of our fears:
Thou shalt hide them privily by thine own presence from the provoking of all men: thou shalt keep them secretly in thy tabernacle from the strife of tongues.
The internet and 24 hour news means that we live, even more than the psalmist, amidst ‘the strife of tongues’, what I have called in my poem the ‘cacophony of condemnations’, so we have all the more need of that secret and all restoring tryst with our Lord in his deep silence and his mystery.
As usual you can hear me read the poem by pressing the ‘play’ button if it appears, or else by clicking on the title. For the other poems in my psalm series type the word ‘psalm’ into the search box on the right.
The night withdrew and joy came in the morning,
When I remembered that I was remembered,
That even through the bitter tears of mourning
I was sustained, the darkest powers were hindered
In their insidious work within my soul
And I was held together and re-membered
By your unceasing love. You made me whole
When all the world was tearing me apart.
When there was fear on every side, you stole
Into the secret garden of my heart
A good thief in the night, and hid with me
In your strong tabernacle, held apart
From all that strife of tongues, cacophony
Of condemnations, so you kept me safe
In your deep silence and your mystery.
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