Lyn reminded me that today is Father’s Day which I think is an American import, no such day having previously existed. It’s a bit like Mothering Sunday which has now been changed into Mother’s Day. I’m not reflecting on Father’s Day save to say that as Christians we think of God as our father. How we then think of God depends to some extent on our own relationship with our fathers. For some this will be a wonderful memory, others will have hardly known their father if he was killed in the last War or subsequent conflicts, whilst for yet others (including me) the memories are not so good though I’m not saying my father was unkind – he just wasn’t a child friendly man.
The Reflection is based on some of the verses from my favourite Psalm – No. 139
“Lord you have examined me and you know me, you know everything I do.” This is really quite scary as I’m sure there are some things that we do that we might not want to be made public, but here is God knowing all about everything. The other side to this is that we know through Jesus that He is a loving heavenly father “full of compassion and tender mercy” and will be able to sympathise with our frailties and forgive them.
“Even before I speak you already know what I will say” This reminds me of the letter of James in the New Testament and what he says about the tongue – read it for yourself in Chapter 3 starting at the first verse.
Next in the Psalm are verses 7 to 12 which I always think are extremely poetical “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy right hand cover me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (A,V.) Well you can’t get much closer to God than that! We just can’t get away from his loving presence.
“How precious are your thoughts to me” You may well ask “How do I know what God’s thoughts are?” I think many Christian people would answer by saying we largely discover God’s thoughts by reading his word in the Bible (and I don’t mean by that only hearing it read in church or once in a blue moon reading it for yourself) but reading it frequently.
Then come four verses, parts of which I’m a bit uncomfortable with, starting off with “O God” how I wish you would kill the wicked” but this is amplified a bit because the Psalmist is talking about those who hate God, but even so it’s not a part which we can fully agree with. There’s enough killing in this world without us joining in!
The last two verses of the Psalm return again to the theme of God knowing our mind, testing us and discerning our thoughts. The bit about testing should definitely not lead us to think of God as some heavenly headmaster waiting to test us and with the cane stood in the corner to be applied if our answers are far from satisfactory.
Further back in the Psalm is the phrase”when I awake I am still with you” which brings to mind a verse of a hymn which I may well have imperfectly recollected – “With thee my Lord my God I would desire to be, by day, by night, at home, abroad,I would be still with thee”.
The final verse of the Psalm is really a prayer “Examine me, O God, and know my mind; test me, and discover my thoughts. Find out if there is any evil in me and guide me in the way everlasting” to which you may like to add “Amen” (so be it).
To finish a quote from a paraphrase of part of the Psalm –
“Search me, O God, search me and know my heart;
try me, O God, my mind and spirit try;
keep me from any path that gives you pain,
and lead me in the everlasting way.”
(No. 731 in Rejoice & Sing)
(P S Can anyone tell me what is the first line of the hymn “With thee my Lord my God”. I’ve been racking what is left of my brain and can’t remember – I’ve even been right through the hymnbook)