A Sheltering God
Guard me as the apple of the eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 17:8
If you have attended a funeral at Grace, chances are you heard the choir sing a setting of Revelation 7:15 for the gospel verse, “They are before the throne of God, worshiping day and night within the temple, and the one who sits upon the throne will shelter them.” (You can hear it at the link above.) The composer, Robert Hobby, brackets the verse with a threefold alleluia, meaning praise the Lord. The music is plaintive; the words are replete with certain hope.
Many of the psalms, especially the ones we sing during Lent, give voice to that combination of plea and confidence. Psalm 17 is an example. The psalmist pleads to God, “Guard me as the apple of the eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, for deadly enemies surround me.”
The psalm ends with confidence in God. The psalmist speaks as though God has already answered his plea.
Paul tells us the last enemy is death. Death’s power is evident as we watch casket, urn or the cross on Good Friday carried up the center aisle. There is reason for the plaintive melody of the gospel verse and melancholy in our hearts.
Even so, we know Jesus overthrew death for us. He rose from the tomb, pushed the gravestone away to free us from those cramped quarters. We are told Jesus’ name means God saves. But the first meaning of the Hebrew word is God makes room. By Jesus resurrection, God makes room for us, shelters us, makes a safe place for us in his kingdom.
We may sing our alleluias in a minor key. Nevertheless, we sing, praise the Lord, praise the Lord, praise the Lord. God guards us as the apple of his eye and hides us in the shadow of his wings.
We thank you O God, for keeping watch over us and for giving us everlasting refuge in your kingdom, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.