A cute verse that kicked me in the guts
I was introduced to this text by a friend as his favorite verse and I have struggled with it since. It’s hard to read this song and not pause for an extra second at this particular verse. After all, it projects a refreshingly rare kind of devotion to God. But it kicks me in the guts with a deep sense of inadequacy because I lack such devotion. Clearly, the Psalmist and I are not on the same latitude with our spirituality. He is absolutely laying it all on the line. It would take me a lifetime and a half to get there if that. Then I asked a different question. What prompted this ancient Israelite to make a profound statement such as, “there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you”? The answer to that question lies in the previous 24 verses.
The Psalmist sings most of this song in great frustration at the unfairness of life. The notion that good things happen to good people seems absurd to him. He goes to the extent of considering all his righteous deeds a waste of time. What’s the point anyway! The righteous suffer while the wicked enjoy life and die happy. Then he realizes that life may be unfair but he has this incredible God who holds his hand and leads him through life – something that the ungodly doesn’t have. And in verse 25, he is ready to trade everything on this earth for such an experience with God. Life is still unfair after three millennia since this song was written. I am equally frustrated about it as the Psalmist and I know that the same God holds my hand through life today. And yet, my final response is sadly very different from the Psalmist. Then I figured out why. I am not ready to trade my desire for the fleeting material possessions and the relationships of this world quite yet!