I will awake the down

Psalm #57

I have been thinking about memory lately.  Our mother-in-law recently celebrated her 95th birthday but the past is mostly lost to her.  The stories that used to animate her are remembered no more.

Someone has said the ‘remember’ is the most frequent command in scripture.  It is used more than 250 times in the Bible and is often a call to faithfulness by God to a forgetful people.

Deuteronomy 8.2 – Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments.

Ecclesiastes 12.1 - Remember now thy Creator in the days of thy youth, while the evil days come not, nor the years draw nigh, when you will say, I have no pleasure in them….

Isaiah 46.9 - Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me….

Isaiah 49.15-16 - “Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb?   Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.  “Behold, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands….”


1 Corinthians 11.25 - After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had eaten, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.

Our psalmist ‘lives’ in the past, present, and future.  The negative reality of the present is persecution (lying down with lions).  The positive aspect of the present is the reality of God’s commitment to the psalmist.  And the future is that moment when I can praise God with enthusiasm and even awake the dawn.

I lie down among lions
   that greedily devour human prey;
their teeth are spears and arrows,
   their tongues sharp swords.

The psalmist fears that evil will ‘devour’ her.

But then the psalm makes a dramatic turn:

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens.
   Let your glory be over all the earth.

The psalmist realizes that evil has in itself the seeds of its own destruction: “They dug a pit in my path, but they have fallen into it themselves.”

Then the finale, faith triumphant:

7 My heart is steadfast, O God,
   my heart is steadfast.
I will sing and make melody.
8 Awake, my soul!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
   I will awake the dawn.
9 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
   I will sing praises to you among the nations.
10 For your steadfast love is as high as the heavens;
   your faithfulness extends to the clouds.

The psalmist’s faith is total trust in the remarkable grace of God.

I will awake the dawn’ reminds me of how Dietrich Bonhoeffer, imprisoned by the Nazis, did just that as he awaited the hangman at dawn.  For he too utterly believed that God’s steadfast love and faithfulness that could reach down both into a prison cell and up to the highest clouds.  Before he left for execution he prayed with his fellow prisoners and then said, ‘This is the end, for me, the beginning of life.’

To ‘remember rightly’ for the Christian is to live forward without fear.

https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=BnmmYjMevWM&feature=share – ‘Remember thy creator’