“Where could I go but to the Lord?” (J.B. Coats) is the refrain of a familiar spiritual. It’s a catchy tune and catchy poetry, but it states an important question that comes up in today’s readings.
Living below in this old sinful world
Hardly a comfort can afford
Striving alone to face temptations call
Where could I go to the Lord
Where could I go where could I go
Seeking a refuge for my soul
Needing a friend to help me in the end
Where could I go to the Lord
The rock higher than I (Psalm 61) — The psalmist is feeling alone and fearful. If the epigraph is accurate and it truly is a psalm of David, it sounds like it could have been written during David’s outlaw years, running from king Saul, living outside of Israel’s borders in the land of the Gentiles. But despite his exile from Israel, he continues to rely upon the Lord, seeking an unapproachable refuge (the rock higher than I) from enemies (Saul?) and shelter under the shadow of God’s wings. Ever felt isolated, alone, without protection? Take a tip from David here: seek real help from the Lord. Trust in Him.
We are all lightweights (Psalm 62) — Along a similar vein of thought, as David continues to seek for rescue from enemies (can you imagine being a king in the 10th century middle-east?), he observes that trusting in the people (v. 9) or even in men of rank or nobility (also v.9) is vain “In the balances they go up; they are together lighter than breath.” Now, of course, these days we’d all like to weigh a little less, but not in this way. We’d all like to think that perhaps we’re heavyweights in a sense, people of importance, of influence. But God observes that altogether we’re lighter than breath — barely even there. So, who is the real heavyweight? God, of course: “…power belongs to God.” We may be able to do things in our world, influence the course of some events, influence some people. But when it comes to who we need to rely on for the real power, let there be no mistake or misunderstanding, “power belongs to God.” Don’t forget to consult Him; don’t forget to pray to Him; don’t forget to make Him part of any calculations you might make for life here or hereafter! Such a thing could only end in miscalculation.
Better than life (Psalm 63) — It apparently can’t be emphasized enough or possibly even exaggerated how much David loved the LORD. Time and again the theme of His psalms return to his soul’s longing, even craving, for God — for being able to come to His place of worship, offer sacrifices to Him, and sing songs in His praise. David goes so far as to say that God’s lovingkindness (covenant love) is better than life. How do you feel about a statement like that? Really. Exaggeration? Hyperbole? Or can you identify? It may say something about your discipleship: “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24, NAS95.