With Thee Is The Well Of Life: A Response To Psalm 36

Chalice Well gardens in Glastonbury

After a little break for saint’s days and site launches I return to my new sequence on the psalms.Psalm 36, is one of those psalms that suddenly shifts in tone part way through and rises to the sublime. It starts, as so many psalms in anger and frustration at the manifest evils in the world:

MY HEART sheweth me the wickedness of the ungodly: that there is no fear of God before his eyes.

For he flattereth himself in his own sight: until his abominable sin be found out.

but then, from the fifth verse on our vision is suddenly lifted, quite literally, into the heavens:

Thy mercy, O Lord, reacheth unto the heavens: and thy faithfulness unto the clouds.

Thy righteousness standeth like the strong mountains: thy judgements are like the great deep.

And then comes, the master image of the psalm, one of the most sublime images in all of Scripture:

For with thee is the well of life: and in thy light shall we see light.

In my responsive poem I have dwelt on that image, together with the other lovely phrases that precedes it:

the children of men shall put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.

They shall be satisfied with the plenteousness of thy house: and thou shalt give them drink of thy pleasures, as out of the river.

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.


XXXVI Dixit injustus

As pilgrim souls on whom your light has shone

Let us leave judgement to your tender mercy

And turn instead to you, keep pressing on


Towards the steadfast heights, the mountain country

Of your holy presence. Let us drink

From that swift river, our true ecstacy.


Refresh us Christ, and bring us to the brink

Of that deep well where life itself is light

And goodness, more than we can dream or think,


Flows from your plenteousness, from your delight

In all your works, and where your loving kindness

Shines through our day and comforts us at night,


Like soft wings safely overarching us,

That we might put our utter trust in you

And fret no more for passing wickedness.


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Filed under imagination, Poems

4 responses to “With Thee Is The Well Of Life: A Response To Psalm 36

  1. lynndmorrissey

    Oh thank you for all these rich-imaged reminders. Fret no more over passing wickedness! Yes. Such a needed reminder: This too shall pass–whether COVID 19 (and vitriolic reactions in America as to how it is best handled–political unrest, gun violence, abortion, and on and on and on). They will not last forever. And the light and well imagery are such needed reminders–that volta in the Psalm when God’s light and His artesian well both flood our souls and circumstances. I think too of how Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the *well* and how He promised her that His living water would never cease its gushing forth, wellspring of Living Water that He is. And we can *only* see light in *His* light, b/c we are all so spiritually blind, our hearts dark without Him. Your poem is beautiful, and I thank you for, through His Spirit, continuing to shine light and quench parched souls.

  2. As so often, a timely reminder of the underlying reality which is unseen and frequently overlooked: the intense goodness and loving kindness of God, and His utter trustworthiness. Thank you.

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