28 September 2010

150 (13-15)

13.  The darkened face of the mourner, of the depressed individual, is one of the most pained realities to confront.  If we have known it ourselves, we're familiar with its tortuous, twisting roadways of anguish and pain.  And if we have encountered it in others, we are greatly aware of our limited ability to alleviate it for them, to lift their veil of darkness.  The loneliness is often the barrier.  "How long will you forget me, God?  How long will you hide your face?  How long do I rely upon myself?"  David's sense of solitude is deep.  Thankfully, he's not mute; and he's able to put into words a sense of utter helplessness that we may have felt in such times.  "Lighten my eyes lest I sleep the sleep of death!"  Here is his hope--he sees his death but doesn't want it--will do what he must to live.  The psalm pivots here, and moves toward a kind of rehabilitation, if you will, of his own being.  Of interest is that he will grasp at whatever motivation he can--"lest my enemy say 'I have prevailed against him'" David shifts away from himself and reaches outward, in trust, to his God and others.  He knows he can't do it alone.  I sat with a mourner recently.  Words were choked from his throat.  He could barely speak.  But when we began to craft a plan for recovery, he looked up.  For the first time in an hour, there was light in his eyes.  "But as for me, in Your mercy do I trust."  Mercy, lovingkindness, and trust.  "My heart shall rejoice in your salvation."  The human connection, the Divine animating force, banish the darkness.

14.  The Sages debate David's intent with this psalm.  Is he talking about Israel being attacked by its enemies or Israel being attacked from within by venal corruption?  These days, take your pick.  Never has Israel been at greater risk from forces who seek its destruction and never has Israel been more corrupt, unable to unify for the greater good of the nation.  The brief glimmer of hope we may have felt when President Obama brought together Netanyahu, Abbas, Mubarak, Abdullah, Clinton, Mitchell and Blair, broke bread and made gains in the fight for peace, has nearly vanished.  Today Mitchell sprints to the region to attempt to bridge the rifts; settlement expansion continues; Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah smolder; Ahmandinejad stands at the dais of the UN spewing insane hatred of Jews and Israel--and just like that, it seems, hope vanishes.  "Oh that salvation of Israel were come out of Zion!"  Peace is in our hands.  Easy as it may be to continually blame others (for we have no lack of enemies) I say the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion.

15.  As I write this blog post, I am listening to Jeff Spurgeon's morning show on WQXR.  He's playing Johann Strauss II "Tales from the Vienna Woods, Opus 325."  What a beautiful piece of music.  All is in order.  I could see reading Psalm 15 along to this music.  David's words here are so perfectly structured, they're a delight to the ears and eyes, a calm ocean shore lapping waves of truth and righteousness on a concise horizon of morality, embracing a firmament of decency and goodness.  Surely the authors of Pirke Avot read this psalm with great delight.  I wonder what it would have sounded like, sung?
A Psalm of David
Eternal, who shall sojourn in your tent?  Who shall dwell upon your holy mountain?
He that walks uprightly and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart;
That has no slander upon his tongue, nor does evil to his fellow, nor takes up reproach against his neighbor;
In whose eyes a vile person is despised, but he honors them that fear the Eternal, he that swears to his own hurt and changes not;
He that does not charge interest, nor takes a bribe against the innocent, he that does these things shall never be moved.

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