by Jake Hall
published in Family Matters enewsletter, July 19, 2019
Carol Younger asked me to reflect on Psalm 40 with an eye on the text and an ear for a different kind of musical embodiment. You can join in by reading along in the "Reflections" devotional guide.
Psalm 40 reads:
I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips, Lord,
as you know.
I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
from the great assembly.
Go and tell. That is what this Psalm compels us to do.
What God does something in your life it matters to the people around you. It matters because the God to whom you pray, the God who acts in your life, isn’t just your God.
Bearing witness to God’s work is, itself a part of God’s redemption of you and God’s redemption of the world. In other words, you aren’t on your own, Pilgrim. Even your prayers to God, while seemingly private are marked by God’s concern for the world. Your story, your journey with God matters, and finding your voice is more about speaking truthfully about your life from your perspective than it is parroting an orthodoxy perceived to be perfection.
So what should inspire your telling of the good news? Well, it isn’t found in the plot of someone else’s life. Bearing witness in the way this Psalm describes called us to unpurse our lips and speak from our truth. There is no seminary degree required to bear witness to your life, just a willingness to share with authenticity and grace.
Even rascals and rebels can learn to tell the truth about God. Kris Kristofferson is a musician and actor. His songwriting bears an introspection uncommon for a man known for being an outlaw. He came to Nashville in the 1960s with a journal full of compositions that plumb the depths of his inner life. Consider this secular Psalm that bears the divine imprint:
CLICK TO LISTEN
Am I young enough to believe in revolution
Am I strong enough to get down on my knees and pray
Am I high enough on the chain of evolution
To respect myself, and my brother and my sister
And perfect myself in my own peculiar way
I get lazy, and forget my obligations
I’d go crazy, if I paid attention all the time
And I want justice, but I’ll settle for some mercy
On this Holy Road through the Universal Mind
Now, how do you give voice to your own unique witness of what God has done in your life? Come on, pilgrim, join the rebel choir.