Psalms of Orientation: Psalm 104
Being a Christian in modern times isn’t easy. We’re immersed in a culture doing its level best to convinces us we are simultaneously the center of the universe and yet so horribly imperfect that the only solution is to Buy More Stuff Now. Hide the warts and cellulite and deadly sins behind a shiny layers of Apple and Abercrombie and Audi! (And that’s just the first letter of the alphabet.)
But if we’re attending church regularly perhaps we’re in the pew each week because we sense that Apple/Abercrombie/Audi ignore rather than answer our questions. Worse, their advertising might actually be making the discomfort worse. Maybe we sense we’re meant to move in a completely different direction, one that takes us away from the path we picked out for ourselves, the one that had all the As in the first place. Maybe we woke up one morning to the disconcerting possibility that this is it, all there is, period, full stop.
Or maybe that’s just me.
So we turn to the Bible, to the Psalms, because someone said they were a source of comfort to Christians and Jews for centuries. But if we read the psalms with the same scattered focus we bring to our lives, they feel irrelevant because the psalms aren’t directed to us. They’re offered to God. Why would God need our praise? God is GOD, and I am me, and despite having a bunch of As, my soul regularly gets shaken and stirred. I need help! How can the Psalms comfort me when they aren’t about me?
That’s exactly how the Psalms comfort us. Being the center of the universe alienates us from God and is actually more work than we want. It requires a strong center of gravity to hold everything together — people, events, decisions, dreams all whirling around a human being? It’s too much. Psalm 104 reminds us to lay down the burden that was never rightfully ours to take up in the first place, and let God be God.
Maybe part of our discomfort is that we sense what’s missing from our lives is reverence, worship, a right relationship to the world. The Psalms help restore that relationship. They put God front and center, not us.
As it should be.