Leaping Over the Wall / that Keeps Us Safe

When people enquire about how best to interest worshipers in the multiplicity of biblical images for God, I direct them to the matchless Psalm 18. In this one psalm, God, who is “my strength,” is likened to a rock, a fortress, a deliverer, a shield, and “the horn of salvation”—an image the intention of which eludes even biblical scholars. God is in a heavenly temple, resembles the smoke and fire of a volcano, rides a cherub, descends to earth in thunder and lightening, has nostrils that quiver with rage. God is “my support” and yet functions also as our judge. God is our light, a commander of armies, an instructor of soldiers, to whom I sing praises and who makes me the head of nations. My favourite parts of Psalm 18 are verse 2, in which God is our fortress, the wall that keeps us safe, and verse 29, in which God helps us to leap over a wall. Which do you need, the protection of a wall or escape over a wall? All this in one psalm…

—-Gail Ramshaw, Saints on Sunday: Voices from Our Past Enlivening Our Worship (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2018), pp. 71-2.

New Norcia, wall. (Photo: Catherine Schieve.)

New Norcia, wall. (Photo: Catherine Schieve.)

Light, Space, Zest


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Eugene Peterson, the author of the popular paraphrase of the Bible, The Message, has died. Read more at Religion News Service.

Here is his version of Psalm 27, from The Message:

A David Psalm


Light, space, zest—
    that’s God!

So, with him on my side I’m fearless,
    afraid of no one and nothing.

    When vandal hordes ride down
    ready to eat me alive,
Those bullies and toughs
    fall flat on their faces.

When besieged,
    I’m calm as a baby.
When all hell breaks loose,
    I’m collected and cool.

I’m asking God for one thing,
    only one thing:
To live with him in his house
    my whole life long.
I’ll contemplate his beauty;
    I’ll study at his feet.

That’s the only quiet, secure place
    in a noisy world,
The perfect getaway,
    far from the buzz of traffic.

God holds me head and shoulders
    above all who try to pull me down.
I’m headed for his place to offer anthems
    that will raise the roof!
Already I’m singing God-songs;
    I’m making music to God.

7-9 Listen, God, I’m calling at the top of my lungs:
    “Be good to me! Answer me!”
When my heart whispered, “Seek God,”
    my whole being replied,
“I’m seeking him!”
    Don’t hide from me now!

9-10 You’ve always been right there for me;
    don’t turn your back on me now.
Don’t throw me out, don’t abandon me;
    you’ve always kept the door open.
My father and mother walked out and left me,
    but God took me in.

11-12 Point me down your highway, God;
    direct me along a well-lighted street;
    show my enemies whose side you’re on.
Don’t throw me to the dogs,
    those liars who are out to get me,
    filling the air with their threats.

13-14 I’m sure now I’ll see God’s goodness
    in the exuberant earth.
Stay with God!
    Take heart. Don’t quit.
I’ll say it again:
    Stay with God.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson