Sunday, March 29, 2020

Spiritual Quote of the Day (King David, on Calling Out to the Lord)

“The waves of death swirled about me;
    the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
    the snares of death confronted me.
 “In my distress I called to the Lord;
    I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice;
    my cry came to his ears.—2 Samuel 22:5-7

I saw a sign bearing verse 7 of this quote—the one about calling out to God— as I passed a local Baptist church yesterday morning, and it seemed perfectly chosen to reflect our nation’s—even our world’s—difficulties as we cope with the coronavirus crisis. 

The verses before what you read here describe this as the words to David’s song after God “delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. These are lyrics of thanksgiving and praise, to be sure, but in this passage, the focus is squarely on David’s desperate straits. Our dilemma, unlike David’s, is medical rather than military, but for all that, no less existential.

It has not been just the varying amounts of difficulties associated with this medical condition (from physical discomfort to death) on display these past several weeks, nor even the fear of the many unknowns associated with it, but also everything that divides us as a society—politics, media, race and ethnicity, (dis)belief in science, and class divisions. 

The virus cannot be the product of a just God’s plan. At the same time, it reveals, nearly 3,000 years after King David erupted in lamentation, that the march of civilization has immunized us against the eternal self-doubts of the human heart, or of the need for God to provide us with solace and courage to face these multiple trials.

(The image accompanying this post shows Gregory Peck in the 1951 Biblical epic David and Bathsheba.)

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