Job 38:1, 12-21; 40:3-5
"Where can I go from your spirit?
From your presence where can I flee?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I sink to the nether world, you are present there." Psalm 139: 7-8
In the past whenever I read or heard these verses, I felt that the author was trying to get away from God, possibly to hide because he has done something wrong. I thought he was upset that he couldn’t find a place to go where God wouldn’t be.
I’m wondering if I had that sense because I sometimes want to hide from God myself! There are days when I am so convicted of my bad attitude or I’m so ashamed of my actions that I really just want to disappear. I hate it when I give in to my flesh and let the Holy Spirit take the back seat. Days like that when I don’t like myself, I don’t want to be around anybody, not even God.
I was very surprised as I was doing the readings for my reflection this month that the person who wrote Psalm 139 was actually saying the opposite of what I had previously thought. Maybe this is why we need to see the whole context of the verses before we try to interpret them. Even just reading the verse preceding the ones I quoted would give a whole different perspective. "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain." Psalm 139: 6 And in verses 9-10 we also see his positive sentiment:
"If I take the wings of the dawn,
if I settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
Even there your hand shall guide me,
and your right hand hold me fast." Psalm 139: 9-10
The lesson for me from all this is that whenever I’m reading scripture I need to read the verses in context and not alone. It is also nice to be reminded that God is always with us, always cheering us onto the finish line, even when we fall short and have a bad day.
Lord, please "hold me fast" especially when I’m struggling.
Janice Carleton and her husband Jim live in Portland, OR and partner with Passionist Fr. Cedric Pisegna in Fr. Cedric Ministries. She is the mother of 4 grown children and grandmother of 6. Janice also leads women’s retreats and recently wrote her first book: God Speaks to Ordinary People – Like You and Me. Visit Janice’s website at http://www.janicecarleton.com/ or email her at [email protected].