1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom then shall I fear? *
the Lord is the strength of my life;
of whom then shall I be afraid?
2 When evildoers came upon me to eat up my flesh, *
it was they, my foes and my adversaries, who
stumbled and fell.
3 Though an army should encamp against me, *
yet my heart shall not be afraid;
4 And though war should rise up against me, *
yet will I put my trust in him.
5 One thing have I asked of the Lord;
one thing I seek; *
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life;
6 To behold the fair beauty of the Lord *
and to seek him in his temple.
7 For in the day of trouble he shall keep me safe in his shelter; *
he shall hide me in the secrecy of his dwelling
and set me high upon a rock.
8 Even now he lifts up my head *
above my enemies round about me.
9 Therefore I will offer in his dwelling an oblation
with sounds of great gladness; *
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
10 Hearken to my voice, O Lord, when I call; *
have mercy on me and answer me.
11 You speak in my heart and say, "Seek my face." *
Your face, Lord, will I seek.
12 Hide not your face from me, *
nor turn away your servant in displeasure.
13 You have been my helper;
cast me not away; *
do not forsake me, O God of my salvation.
14 Though my father and my mother forsake me, *
the Lord will sustain me.
15 Show me your way, O Lord; *
lead me on a level path, because of my enemies.
16 Deliver me not into the hand of my adversaries, *
for false witnesses have risen up against me,
and also those who speak malice.
17 What if I had not believed
that I should see the goodness of the Lord *
in the land of the living!
18 O tarry and await the Lord's pleasure;
be strong, and he shall comfort your heart; *
wait patiently for the Lord.
I might be the only idiot rereading Stephen King's The Stand right now. Often hailed as one of his best novels, it's about a plague with 100% mortality that wipes out 99% of humanity, only to have the survivors divided in an epic battle of good and evil. The good are called to Boulder, CO, and the bad commune in - where else - Vegas. Strangely, this complete fiction is soothing against current realities.
This Psalm says so much At This Time. It's not difficult to latch onto the military wording, given the parallel language we're hearing each day - the 'war' against coronavirus, our healthcare workers on the 'front lines', and the 'enemies' lurking on every surface yet visible only with an electron microscope. Only, we can't leave our houses and gather together to find strength in numbers, like the good guys in The Stand.
The phrase that's playing on loop for me is '... he shall keep me safe in his shelter'. What a cosmic flipping of the script that we're called to use our homes to safeguard ourselves, friends, family and people we've never even met - by NOT welcoming them in. It's strange to think that our battle is fought through stillness and distance. But then I remember we're all living within God's shelter - just with separate rooms for a little while.
Living on Ocean Parkway, the wailing of ambulances had been a constant reminder of the gravity of this situation and that so little is in our control. Fortunately, the sirens have been fewer the past few days - and that has comforted my heart.