In my “Hanging up the Harps” post, I commented that perhaps Psalm 137 was worthy of several blog entries. Here’s part two.
Remember, O Lord, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem’s fall, how they said, ‘Lay it bare! Lay it bare! Down to its foundations!’ (Psalm 137:7)
When we read the psalm in our circle that day (four different readers, with different translations), something unusual happened. We had listened to the text three different times, and it was J’s turn to read. J came upon verse 7 and read it this way, “Let it bear! Let it bear! Down to its foundations!” She read it incorrectly twice before she caught herself and changed it to “lay it bare.” Her “mistake” captured my attention.
I started thinking about how the Edomites were cheering on the Babylonians in their work of destroying Jerusalem, and how the Babylonians were doing God’s work of destroying and purifying Jerusalem. They were instruments of God’s judgment against Israel. The “laying bare” of Jerusalem was a merciful (and terrifyingly harsh) destruction of idolatry. God stripped them down to their foundations because they had forgotten who He was. They had also forgotten who (and whose) they were.
As I prayed the refrain, “Lay it bare, lay it bare,” it suddenly became “Lay me bare, Lord. Lay me bare. Tear down everything in me that isn’t established in You. And let it bear. Let the destruction of everything idolatrous in me bear fruit for You.”
Joseph famously declared to his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “What you intended for evil, God intended for good.”
It doesn’t mean we start calling evil “good.” But can we begin to glimpse the hand of God mysteriously working in the midst of all our circumstances, even in the painful, crushing ones?
Lay me bare, Lord. And let me bear for You.
Funny, the timing of this post. Right after I typed that prayer, the tornado sirens went off. I’ve just emerged from our basement. Seven years in Michigan, and I can’t remember ever hearing tornado sirens. We spent five years in Oklahoma, and they were commonplace there. Let me simply say, I’m terrified of tornadoes. Maybe it’s rooted in childhood memories of watching “Wizard of Oz.” As a little girl living in earthquake country, I was just glad I didn’t live in Kansas.
In light of those fears, can I pray the words again, confident in God’s love and goodness? Do I really trust God’s tearing down and building up work in my life?