Verse 7. Deep calls to deep at the thunder of your cataracts; all your waves and your billows have gone over me.
Oh boy, springtime in the mountains. Cataracts crashing. Being a native Californian, I think of Yosemite Valley. Did you ever read John Muir’s description of Yosemite Falls during snowmelt? I wish I had it here to quote from. What surge of joy, what exhilaration, with the mist rising and the comets of watersplash spinning off into the blue air.
We’re presented with a major contrast to everything that has led up to verse seven. It’s the third water image, and we’ve suddenly shot into another dimension where there is more wonderful living water than we can handle. And then in his wild skittering mind, the poet jumps even farther, into the Sea of Galilee maybe during a storm and he’s about to drown in God’s waves and billows. Pretty thrilling stuff, but I’m not quite sure how these images fit in to the rest of the psalm. And what does “deep calls to deep” mean, anyway? Is the cataract thunder calling to the thunder of the waves? That’s a cool image, but I’m not sure it’s what he meant. Can one of you thinkers help out? I’d like to know.
Guess I didn’t explain this one very well. I’ll try verse eight.
Verse 8. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
If I was the psalmist’s editor, I would write “clarify” in the margin. Or maybe the poet means to be ambiguous. It seems obvious that you can’t command someone to love you, so either the psalmist has a totally different understanding of what love means or, more likely, he means that God commands his love to go out to his people, sort of like the Holy Spirit – which hadn’t been given a name yet – and that God’s love is steadfast. Never stops. He loves his children forever no matter what.
“At night his song is with me”, is also a little ambiguous. Does the psalmist mean he remembers a song he used to sing in the temple and he sings it to God in his mind? Probably, but I like to imagine him in his sleeping bag up on Mt. Mizar, with his eyes open looking at the stars and he actually hears God singing in the night. Like Aslan.
Continued next post.
Thanks to Andreea Francu for the pic.