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Psalm 139


THE PSALM TEXT read in many congregations this morning is selected from portions of Psalm 139. I love the wholesale intimacy of its confessional text, leaving nothing hidden from our Creator, who knows even our most inward thoughts.

Verses 11-18 suggest God’s imaginative activity in our lives from our beginning in the womb, craftily knitting us together. Here is poet, David Rosenberg’s version of it set beside the NRSV . . .

Circled text from my son, Andrew Howell’s NRSV Bible. He had annotated or highlighted portions of all but one of the 150 psalms. More about his bible here.


however close I pull the night around me
even at midnight
day strips me naked

in your tender sight
black and white
are one—all light

you who put me together
piece by piece in the womb
from light

that work shines
through the form of my skeleton
on my song of words

you watched as my back steadied
the still-soft fuselage of ribs
in primitive studio deep within

you saw me as putty
a life unfashioned
a plane at the bottom of the sea

and the great book of its life
this embryo will write
in a body you have sculpted

A portion of “PSALM 139”
A Poet’s Bible, Rediscovering the Voices of the Original Text, by David Rosenberg © 1991, Hyperion



“Fearfully and wonderfully made”


We are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” the traditional scripture says, but fear not! With all of our bundle of complexity we can trust in the goodness of God to redeem, renew, and reimagine each of us beyond the horizon of our short lives.


Lord of all hopefulness


The hymn by English-American poet, Jan Struther (1901-1953), Lord of All Hopefulness, resonates with this spirit of trust. In one sense, it is a thoughtful reflection on the daylong, surrounding, and peace-giving presence of God, but it just as easily reflects the arc of our life’s span. In our waking, in our endeavors, our labors, our striving, and ultimately our homecoming and surrender to rest, God is with us.

Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,
Whose trust, ever child-like, no cares can destroy,
Be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,
Your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.

Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,
Whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe,
Be there at our labors, and give us, we pray,
Your strength in our hearts, Lord, at the noon of the day.

Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,
Your hands swift to welcome, your arms to embrace,
Be there at our homing, and give us, we pray,
Your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day.

Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
Whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm,
Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,
Your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day.

Text: Jan Struther (aka Joyce Torrens-Graham), 1931
Tune: SLANE, Irish melody




O LORD, thank you that however your light finds me, it finds me held in your arms, safely kept inside the net of your love and care. Help me to go my way through life’s ups and downs resting in that promise. Amen.