“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is [hu]man that You are mindful of them?” Psalm 8:3-4a
The Psalms are poetic prayers that are full of beautiful imagery about how God cares for God’s creation, and often they express our most painful emotions poured out to God in our anguish. I suppose you could think about the Psalms like singing the blues that somehow make you feel better once you really get down and dirty with the reality of a situation. Sometimes, our plight is too much to hold in and we find comfort in singing it out.
We are most familiar with Psalm 23 with the imagery of a shepherd and sheep, and the preparing of a table in the presence of our enemies. That part about anointing our head with oil holds so much meaning for a sheep because that oil, in those days, protected the little sheep from flying annoying bugs that would bite at them throughout their day at pasture. And at night, a good shepherd would anoint the sheep again after carefully examining the sheep’s body for any scrapes, or cuts, or bruises. Oil was for healing at night, and for protection during the day.
This scripture in Psalm 8 describes the same thing, the part about “what is human that you are mindful…” That word mindful in the original language gives the picture of what I’ve just described, the picture of a shepherd combing through her sheep’s wool very carefully inspecting the little one for signs of damage, or harm, or a sore spot so she can clean the wound and apply the oil. This scripture tells of the vastness of creation and yet God comes close to the human, to you and to me, to carefully, tenderly pay attention to every detail of our being...looking for signs of any sore spots so that She can apply the oil of protection and healing. Her very Spirit of comfort and tender mercy.
We may think at times that God is far away from our most painful parts, but the Psalms remind us that She is so very close, and so very interested in all that pains us, each and every day.
Prayer: Gracious One, I love this. I love to think about you knowing the details of what hurts me, not to shame me, but to help and heal me. I want to trust that you are with me in my most painful problems. Help me open my soul to your compassionate nature and lovingkindness. In your grace and protected by your oil I’ll remain today. Amen.