Sonnet for Psalm 61

“Lead me to the rock that's higher than I”
Help me find refuge, from life's enemy - 
Enemy? Me? Is it fear? Apathy?
Cynicism, despair, self-centered pride?
Enemies abound, for me and our world.
Hidden within us, but shared all around.
"Let me abide in your tent forever" - 
This psalm’s prayer - so tempting to ask for.
But no. Tented glory on your mountain
Must roll down like waters, here in your world
Until justice, peace, mercy breathe again,
Open hearts, hands, joined, your shalom returned.
Lead us to ground holy, higher than we,
But here in your world, so all can be free.

I have been sharing a series of blog posts called “Poems, Prayers, Psalms, and Promises” featuring devotional poetry that reflects on scripture. In this post, I am doing something new – I am sharing one of my own poems as part of this series. I am doing this not because I think of myself as a poet, but to demonstrate how writing poems can be a very meaningful way for anyone to interact with and personalize God’s word to us. Journaling, writing prayers, and writing poems are all ways to respond to God’s word with a word of our own. By doing this, we enter into a conversation with God that can open God’s word to us in new ways. For me, Psalm 61 now means something more to me that it did not before I wrote this poem. So, here is this psalm, followed by scripture passages that I had in mind when I wrote this sonnet, along with my sonnet again, and a closing prayer.

Psalm 61

Hear my cry, O God; 
  listen to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint. 
  Lead me to the rock that is higher than I;
    for you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.
Let me abide in your tent forever, 
  find refuge under the shelter of your wings.
For you, O God, have heard my vows; 
  you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
Prolong the life of the king; 
  may his years endure to all generations!
May he be enthroned forever before God; 
  appoint steadfast love and faithfulness to watch over him!
So I will always sing praises to your name, 
  as I pay my vows day after day.

Scripture Readings:

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14

Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” – Matthew 17:4

Sonnet for Psalm 61

“Lead me to the rock that’s higher than I”
Help me find refuge, from life’s enemy – 
Enemy? Me? Is it fear? Apathy?
Cynicism, despair, self-centered pride?
Enemies abound, for me and our world.
Hidden within us, but shared all around.
“Let me abide in your tent forever” – 
This psalm’s prayer – so tempting to ask for.
But no. Tented glory on your mountain
Must roll down like waters, here in your world
Until justice, peace, mercy breathe again,
Open hearts, hands, joined, your shalom returned.
Lead us to ground holy, higher than we,
But here in your world, so all can be free.

Closing Prayer

O Lord, it is so tempting to hide away in your tent, away from life’s battle; to stay on the mountain with you, where it is safe. There are times when this is needed, and when you encourage it. But there are also times when you send us down from the mountain, out of the tent, and into the world. When you send us, Lord, keep us mindful that even when we leave your tent, we do not leave you, because you promise to be with us always. And when we go, Lord, guide us and help us as we join with others in creating a world where your justice, peace, mercy and love are experienced by all. In Jesus’ name. Amen

12 thoughts on “Sonnet for Psalm 61

  1. Very moving poem.

    Yes, we would prefer to stay in our tent, isolated from the world, but God asks us to engage with the world, and promises to empower us as we do. Thanks.

    🌷😊

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is such a wonderful idea, and a lovely practice, this way of responding to poetry with more poetry. I especially love the thought in your closing prayer – it reminds me of Sara Groves’ song, “Floodplain,” which perfectly captures the idea of “living close” instead of staying on the mountain, apart from people and things.

    Like

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