I don’t know how many funerals I have led as a pastor but it is a lot. And in probably at least a third of them, “On Eagles’ Wings” has been sung. Say what you will about the hymn, it is one that has spoken deeply to many since it was first arranged with most of the lyrics coming almost directly from this Psalm. After I read it yesterday morning, I found myself humming the hymn as I went for my morning prayer walk. But as I saw the rays of the early morning sun shining through the haze, I started to wonder about the last few verses (which BTW are not in the hymn).
Those who love me, I will deliver. I will protect those who know my name. When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.Psalm 91:14-16
So, does that mean that only those who love God will be delivered by God? Or only those who know God will be protected? I hope that’s not the case. But at times it sure feels like there’s a lot of picking and choosing by God about who is protected and delivered and who is answered and who is rescued and honored.
These light rays can give the impression as well that they are where the light is. That because we can see the evidence of the light that the light isn’t in other places. But that’s obviously not the case. It is just how the light got filtered through trees and through the haze. But even outside those rays, the light is still there.
At times like this, it helps me to remember that the Psalms were written by humans just like us who were trying to figure out the ways and workings of God. Yes God speaks through these words but they were first crafted by ordinary people. And these ordinary people clearly thought that the light of God shone only on a few.
But the overall witness of Scripture reflects something different. It reflects that God so loved the world that Jesus was given. It shares that God desires ALL people to come to salvation. The witness speaks that the image of God is in ALL people. And so…
I believe in a God whose deliverance and protection are not limited to only a few.
I believe in a God who answers both those who call upon God and those who don’t know they are doing so.
I believe in a God who is with all people when it is obvious and when it is not.
I believe in a God who is about honoring all.
And I believe that we are called to live in this way
And as this Psalm has spoken to people in trying times throughout history, I believe in a God who is especially with those who are struggling, those who are hurting, those who feel abandoned or neglected, those who are oppressed, those who are calling out for justice and hope.