“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire other than you.”
– Psalms [73:25]
In life, it isn’t a question of whether we will become disoriented, but when. We will lose our sense of stability at some point. The world will become confusing, and we’ll struggle to stay remained on our intended path. We will scramble for a purpose, and search for firmer ground. The Book of Psalms can help us regain our footing. The Book of Psalms describes the human condition in a remarkably intimate yet universally relatable way. It is the largest book in the Bible, and took over a thousand years to complete. Famed Biblical scholar Walter Brueggemann views the Psalms as each being centered around one of three states of being: orientation, disorientation, and new orientation. Orientation occurs when our world is in harmony. Disorientation occurs when we encounter obstacles and lose our way. New orientation occurs when God reveals to us the mystery of faith and answers our prayers. We always exist in one of these three states.
In Psalm 8 (NRSV), King David asks, “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?”
While this is a statement of praise, it also shows that David is in a state of contentment or orientation.
But in Psalm 13, King David asks, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?”
David is clearly in distress at this point, and feels abandoned by God. This is the state of disorientation, the state of a lost soul, overwhelmed by life and circumstances.
Later, though, in the same Psalm, we see a new orientation when David declares, “I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
“In life, it isn’t a question of whether we will become disoriented, but when..The Book of Psalms can help us regain our footing”
Circumstances have changed and David has newly oriented himself. His path—and his world—have been corrected.
Our lives are often disrupted, whether by circumstance or by our own doing. When this happens, we pray. We search. We feel empty and abandoned. Then, suddenly, we find that our prayers have answers. Life makes sense again—we are back on course. The Psalms offer us comfort, reminding us that we are not alone, offering us encouragement and giving us the courage to newly orient ourselves. We are comforted by the intimacy with which we explore our soul’s journey, and we are reminded that God is always with us, speaking to us through the verses of the Psalms.
Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman
Do we include Psalms in our daily prayers?
Can we feel how God reaches directly into our hearts through the Psalms?