A Psalm

A prophetic Psalm from the book of Isaiah:

Arise, shine, for your light has come,

And the glory of the Lord

Rises upon you.

For darkness covers the earth

And thick darkness is over the peoples,

But the Lord rises upon you

And his glory appears over you

Isaiah 61:1&2 NIV

It’s March the ninth, 2008; it’s East Central Iowa, and lying awake in bed this morning I heard the unmistakable signal of spring.  Never mind that we’ve had a very hard winter with more than five feet of snow. Never mind that the temperature yesterday morning was down close to zero and most of our yard is still covered with eight plus inches of snow/ice. The Robin is back! The Robin’s prophetic voice pierced the darkness this morning and announced the end of doom and gloom: “Joy comes in the morning.”


I wonder every spring what the poor thing will eat; how he will stay warm; how he will survive until the nightcrawlers are washed to the surface by spring rains. It always seems he might have a forty-day fast until it happens. But then, that’s the way it often is for God’s prophets. They always come too early and with (what seems like,) too little provision.


Yesterday morning, Marlene was sharing with me that she had re-discovered the verse about “The joy of the Lord” being “our strength” in, of all places, the book of Nehemiah. The text around that verse puzzled her: The people, exiles who recently returned from Babylon captivity, were standing and hearing the word of God being read for the first time in their lives – and they were crying. Marlene couldn’t understand why Ezra quieted the people’s weeping and told them to rejoice and give presents to each other. “Aren’t tears of repentance in order?”


The people had already previously done their weeping. They had ‘hung up their harps, sat down, and wept by the rivers of Babylon.’ It was ‘weeping for a night,’ and what a night it was: “Joy comes in the morning.”


When the LORD turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.


Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing: then said they among the heathen, The LORD hath done great things for them.


The LORD hath done great things for us; [whereof] we are glad.


            Turn again our captivity, O LORD, as the streams in the south.


They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.


He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves [with him]. Psalms 126 AV


Dear Father: ‘Turn the captivity’ of someone right now. Strengthen the week limbs and heal broken hearts and bones. To our hearts bring back the springtime. Let us hear the Robin’s voice and rejoice in your never failing goodness. Amen.


(A Psalm 143 Paraphrase)


O Lord hear our prayer,

Listen as we request your mercy,

In your faithfulness and righteousness

Come to our aid.

Do not bring your servants

Into judgment,

None of us who are alive are

Righteous before you

A satanic host pursues us,

We are crushed to the ground;

Our spirits dwell in isolation

And darkness;

Our inner man grows faint,

Our hearts are often dismayed.

We remember days long gone;

We meditate on your works;

We are thrilled at the things

Your hands have done.

We spread our hands to you,

We thirst like a parched land.

Answer us quickly, O Lord;

Our spirits fail.

Do not look away from us,

We would not be able to

Stand the darkness.

Let each morning bring us word

Of your unfailing love

We have put our trust in you.

Always give us your direction;

We lift our soul to you.

Rescue us from adversity, O Lord,

We hide inside your care.

Teach us to do your will,

For you are our God.

May your good Spirit lead us to

A place of wide vistas.

For your name’s sake, O Lord,

Preserve our lives.

In your righteousness

Bring us out of trouble.

In your unfailing love,

Silence our adversaries;

Destroy that, Which would

Destroy us,

For we are your servants.

Jonas Borntreger