The Linnet's Wings :Take All My Loves, My Love - Page 50

The Linnet´s Wings fashioned in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw me unformed; in your book all are written down; my days were shaped, before one came to be. III How precious to me are your designs, O God; how vast the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the sands; when I complete them, still you are with me. When you would destroy the wicked, O God, the bloodthirsty depart from me! Your foes who conspire a plot against you are exalted in vain. IV Do I not hate, LORD, those who hate you? Those who rise against you, do I not loathe? With fierce hatred I hate them, enemies I count as my own. Probe me, God, know my heart; try me, know my thoughts. See if there is a wicked path in me; lead me along an ancient path. (National Conference of Catholic Bishops) God is the perfect law, the way we are to live the best version of a human life. Psalm 139 gives voice to conscience, consciousness, and conscientiousness; that is, to the voice within that tells us the truth and shapes the will to live it. Here again the speaker is conflicted. He has sought to hide from God, to escape the burden of goodness and fidelity. But he has found, with much frustration, there is nowhere to hide. God is everywhere and always, but most especially within, the deep reality his ungainly self must some- how obey. He asks: “Probe me, God, know my heart; try me, know my thoughts. See if there is a wicked path in me; lead me along an ancient path.” But the speaker is also bargaining with God, hoping to show he is worthy of the Lord’s favor. He hopes his complete submission will please God and win for him God’s blessing. He invites God to inspect him from the vantage of the depths only the Lord can reach, and then confer upon him the riches only God can give. However, this challenge is presumptuous. As the third stanza recognizes, God’s designs are vast and far beyond our comprehension. The psalm is agonizing, the psalmist’s surrender incomplete; human understanding always falls short of God’s judgment, the dread of Job’s lament and our existential anxiety. The Book of Psalms, for many devout readers, is the victim of respect so suffocating the poems cannot be understood in themselves. They must be made to square with religious teaching and ardent hopes. These lyrics have each a dramatic setting. They gain their power from the drama of being human in specific circumstances, the speaker caught between aspirations to perfection and the travail of being in- complete and subject to vast and incomprehensible forces and events. As with all great poetry, the voices are distinct, and the passions are familiar. They cry out for understanding, and to be freed from the power of piety, and from other uses religion would put them to. --- 50