'Shalom' and Nature-Chaos Imagery in Psalm 65

Psalm 65

Praise for God's Bounty in Nature
To the chief Musician, A Psalm and Song of David.


1 Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Zion:
and unto thee shall the vow be performed.

2 O thou that hearest prayer,
unto thee shall all flesh come.

3 Iniquities prevail against me:
as for our transgressions,
thou shalt purge them away.

4 Blessed is the man whom thou choosest,
and causest to approach unto thee,
that he may dwell in thy courts:
we shall be satisfied with the goodness of thy house,
even of thy holy temple.

5 By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us,
O God of our salvation;
who art the confidence of all the ends of the earth,
and of them that are afar off upon the sea:

6 which by his strength setteth fast the mountains;
being girded with power:

7 which stilleth the noise of the seas,
the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people.

8 They also that dwell in the uttermost parts are afraid at thy tokens:
thou makest the outgoings of the morning and evening to rejoice.

9 Thou visitest the earth, and waterest it:
thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God, which is full of water:
thou preparest them corn,
when thou hast so provided for it.

10 Thou waterest the ridges thereof abundantly:
thou settlest the furrows thereof:
thou makest it soft with showers:
thou blessest the springing thereof.

11 Thou crownest the year with thy goodness;
and thy paths drop fatness.

12 They drop upon the pastures of the wilderness:
and the little hills rejoice on every side.

13 The pastures are clothed with flocks;
the valleys also are covered over with corn;
they shout for joy, they also sing.


We read this Psalm at morning prayer the other day and with the concept of shalom on my mind I was struck by the parallel imagery of verse seven where the Psalmist sings of the God who stilleth "the noise of the sea, the noise of their waves, and the tumult of the people."

How odd!

What a strange inclusion!

But if the "tumult of the people" really is to be numbered with the noise of the sea and the noise of their waves, in other words with the chaotic forces of nature that God stills by his power, then that says something significant about the chaos of human endeavor gone wrong and the efforts of God to still that chaos, to bring peace, to bring shalom to the world of human afairs.

3 comments:

Jodi said...

Wonderful thoughts, Jon! Oh for the grace to have more 'shalom,' more calm in my life! I understand the pull towards thoughtless meditation sometimes as I wrestle with the tumult of my own thoughts in personal meditation. And that doesn't say anything for the waves I make with other people and with God's creation. It gives the phrase "don't make any waves" another meaning.

ferris said...

"...Oh! Blessed rage for order, pale Ramon,
The maker's rage to order words of sea
Words of the fragrant portals, dimly-starred,
And of ourselves and our origins,
In ghostlier demarcations, keener sounds. "

JPB said...

I hadn't thought of that!