I am working on a series of poems based on Psalm 119. The longest psalm and the longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119 is an acrostic poem. There are twenty-two, eight verse sections in which the words of each section begin with the same Hebrew letter. The form is as much instructive as the psalm itself. The 176 verses of Psalm 119 is a meditation on the Law. Unlike the Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-133) which seem to bear some narrative flow culminating with arriving at blessing, Psalm 119 is constrained by its form. It seems that the form itself is at least part of the lesson, and the lesson is that blessing is not found through unfettered freedom, but rather is enhanced by direction and constraint. (One of the reasons I am helped by poetic forms is that the form makes creating more creative. By limiting my options, I have to work with what I have “rhyme, meter, and rhythm”.) The moral shape of creation (the Law) is comprised of the limits with which we have to cultivate a beautiful character and life.
This sonnet is based on Psalm 119:1-16. If it’s helpful, you may listen to me read the sonnet via the player below.
Ah, to be so blessed as to rest unwound
By the day’s deeds and rumination
That you freely fall to sleep–sweet and sound
Not fearing the prattler’s accusations.
Blessed, so blessed that you know you shall find
The treasure and hope of your desiring
Confident despite trial or grueling grind
Or hardship, discipline, or self-denying.
Can there be such a promise, certain, sure,
Beyond question, betrayal, or forsaking?
A word unqualified, straight and true, pure
So good, the promised hope is earthshaking?
Blessed, the Promise seeks you, calls your name,
Gives you His blessing, takes from you your shame.
© Randall Edwards 2018.
This poem is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.