Sleep is over-rated. One hour, and then toss, switch sides, too hot, toilet, a thousand thoughts, turn them into prayers, what was that sound?, more thoughts, more prayers, give up, rise, light on, rearrange bed, locate Bible, listen to the voice of God.
Last night, reading, praying, meditating on Psalm 93. This.
Robed and covered, . surrounded with majesty, the Lord is enthroned with glory and power. What He establishes is unmoveable,
And you? You puny little man, who are you? You are a breath, a blade of dry grass, and yet, . a little lower than an angel . the bearer of a Kings image, a King whose might is greater than the waves that would crush you or the floods that would drown you.
You, . you puny little man, . you are not mighty. But He to whom you belong, He is mighty, and every word He decrees is trust-tested worthy.
Remember that and live, for holiness saturates His dwelling place.
In December of 2009 or there abouts, my son, Marty Schoenleber III (aka Marty S. Dalton), put a video up on Youtube.com. It inspired me to keep working on a project I thought of a couple of years ago. The idea is to write a poem of personal reflection for each Psalm in the psalter. Some of the poems are preceded by a brief commentary.
Please don’t think of any of these offerings as high art. I’m not that talented. Think of them as the musings of one desperate and poor man’s desire to draw nearer to Christ.
One more thing: It is always best to read the psalm or the verses being commented on first.
Read Psalm 127
Delighting in Undeserved Gifts
Psalm 127:1–5 Reworking and thinking Solomon’s Psalm.
We received what You delighted to give . and the delights have continued to live It was You who built our house . and our labor with You has not been in vain.
We have watched You guard this house . and all subtractions have been gain.
The vanity of doing life without You . is a painful and ill-fruited labor
But You give rest and peace to the heart fixed on You.
These children, … these children are such gifts . The fruit of my bride’s womb is beyond imagining. And now the arrows are released from a broken warriors hand; . my youth is spent; the horizon shortens. But I am a blessed man whose quiver, though empty now; . Is not ashamed by thoughts of them . and the battles they will fight and win. . When the enemies of You stand at the gate and rage.
As an undergrad, I was an ancient history major, focused on Greece and Rome with a minor in ancient Greek language. I love history and I love exploring the past for gems that speak across the centuries about the wonder of Christ. Venantius Fortunatus was a bishop in Poitiers France around A.D. 600 and one of the favorite poets and hymn writers of his time.
Poetry, real, thoughtful, word-smithed artistry is a rare commodity in our time. Some slam poetry has real force and power and even beauty but the kind of sustained discipline that is found in some ancient poetry and hymns is mostly a lost art today. When I found this today as part of my sermon prep, I knew I had to dust off the intervening 1,400 years and pass it on. This deep meditation on the meaning of the cross and the greatness of the Savior is worth a slow, undistracted read. Enjoy.
Originally, written in Latin, the version below was translated by Edward Caswell except for verses 8-12 which are from another’s hand. I first read the hymn in Philip Schaff’s compilation, Christ in Song: Hymns of Immanuel Selected from all Ages (Vestavia Hills, AL: Solid Ground Christian Books, 1870, 2003), 125-127.
Sing, My Tongue, The Saviour’s Battle
1 Sing, my tongue, the Saviour’s battle, Tell His triumph far and wide; Tell aloud the wondrous story Of His Body crucified; How upon the cross a victim, Vanquishing in death, He died.
2 Eating of the tree forbidden, Man had sunk in Satan’s snare, When our pitying Creator Did this second tree prepare, Destined many ages later, That first evil to repair.
3 Such the order God appointed, When for sin He would atone, To the serpent thus opposing Schemes yet deeper than his own; Thence the remedy procuring, Whence the fatal wound had come.
4 So, when now at length the fullness Of the time foretold drew nigh, Then the Son, the world’s Creator, Left His Father’s throne on high, From the virgin’s womb appearing Clothed in our mortality.
5 All within a lowly manger, Lo, a tender babe He lies! See His gentle virgin-mother Lull to sleep His infant cries! While the limbs of God Incarnate Round with swathhing bands she ties.
6 Thus did Christ to perfect manhood In our mortal flesh attain; Then of His free choice He goeth To a death of bitter pain; He, the Lamb upon the altar Of the cross, for us was slain.
7 Lo, with gall His thirst He quenches, See the thorns upon His brow; Nails His hands and feet are rending; See, His side is open now; Whence, to cleanse the whole creation, Streams of blood and water flow.
8 Faithful Cross! above all other, One and only noble Tree! None in foliage, none in blossom, None in fruit thy peers may be; Sweetest wood and sweetest iron, Sweetest weight is hung on thee!
9 Bend thy boughs, O tree of glory! Thy relaxing sinews bend; For a while the ancient rigour, That thy birth bestowed, suspend; And the King of heavenly beauty On thy bosom gently tend.
10 Thou alone wast counted worthy This world’s ranson to uphold; For a shipwrecked race preparing Harbour, like the ark of old: With the sacred blood anointed, From the smitten Lamb that rolled.
11 When, O Judge of this world! coming In Thy glory all divine, Thou shalt bid Thy cross’s trophy Bright above the stars to shine; Be the light and the salvation Of the people that are Thine!
12 Blessing, honour everlasting, To the immortal Deity; To the Father, Son, and Spirit, Equal praise ever be; Glory through the earth and heaven To the blessed Trinity!