I’ll pick up Anne Steele’s poetical version of Psalm 139, continuing from last blog entry (… interesting how this kind of poetry reminds one of reading the Amplified Version of the Bible!)
If I look back, thy awful steps I see;
Before me, thou art there; thy potent hand
Restrains and guards, upholds and guides my feet.
Infinite knowledge; my astonish’d mind
Sinks down with awe, and wonders, and adores.
Imagination droops her trembling wing,
Nor vainly tempts the height and depth stupendous.
To shun thy spirit whither shall I fly?
Where shall I hide me from a present God?
Could I ascend to heaven, thy throne is there,
And thy full rays would meet my dazzled sight.
Or if to hell I force my desperate way,
Thy dreadful presence there for ever frowns.
If mounted on the morning’s lightsome wings,
Swift to creation’s utmost bounds I fly,
Thy hand alone sustains and guides my flight.
Shall I, to shun the terrors of thine eye,
In midnight’s sable mantle wrap me round?
Vain thought! At one tremendous glance of thine,
The midnight shade shall blaze with sudden day.
From thee no darkness hides; at thy command
Night’s deepest gloom shall spread meridian beams
And light and darkness are alike to thee.
—Anne Steele (from Psalm CXXXIX)
The psalmist provides such a visual experience and Anne just follows through on that with her paraphrase. It’s interesting how the heights and depths of our senses are touched by these lines. From touch (’thy potent hand Restrains and guards, upholds and guides my feet’
) to sight ( ‘thy full rays would meet my dazzled sight’
and ‘At one tremendous glance of thine, The midnight shade shall blaze with sudden day’
) and then to sound (‘at thy command
Night’s deepest gloom shall spread meridian beams…’)
And perhaps, most of all, besides touching our senses, our understanding of God is blown away: ‘Infinite knowledge; my astonish’d mind Sinks down with awe, and wonders, and adores’
Are we, like the psalmist, as we contemplate this inescapeable, all-knowing God, humbled with awe and wonder and adoration? Or are we just afraid and fearful...