By Sherry Black

Reading from Psalm 18:1-20

1 I love you, O LORD my strength, 
    O LORD my stronghold, my crag, and my haven.
 
2 My God, my rock in whom I put my trust, 
    my shield, the horn of my salvation, and my refuge;
    you are worthy of praise.
 
3 I will call upon the LORD, 
    and so shall I be saved from my enemies.
 
4 The breakers of death rolled over me, 
    and the torrents of oblivion made me afraid.
 
5 The cords of hell entangled me, 
    and the snares of death were set for me.
 
6 I called upon the LORD in my distress 
    and cried out to my God for help.
 
7 He heard my voice from his heavenly dwelling; 
    my cry of anguish came to his ears.

8 The earth reeled and rocked; 
    the roots of the mountains shook;
    they reeled because of his anger.
 
9 Smoke rose from his nostrils
and a consuming fire out of his mouth; 
    hot burning coals blazed forth from him.
 
10 He parted the heavens and came down 
    with a storm cloud under his feet.
 
11 He mounted on cherubim and flew; 
    he swooped on the wings of the wind.
 
12 He wrapped darkness about him; 
    he made dark waters and thick clouds his pavilion.
 
13 From the brightness of his presence, through the clouds, 
    burst hailstones and coals of fire.
 
14 The LORD thundered out of heaven; 
    the Most High uttered his voice.
 
15 He loosed his arrows and scattered them;
    he hurled thunderbolts and routed them.
 
16 The beds of the seas were uncovered,
and the foundations of the world laid bare,
    at your battle cry, O LORD,
    at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.
 
17 He reached down from on high and grasped me;
    he drew me out of great waters.
 
18 He delivered me from my strong enemies
and from those who hated me; 
    for they were too mighty for me.
 
19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster;
    but the LORD was my support.

20 He brought me out into an open place;
    he rescued me because he delighted in me.

Meditation

I am reminded of the immortal song popularized by the late, great Aretha Franklin:

Rescue me
Oh take me in your arms
Rescue me…
Come on and rescue me!

God rescued me, because God delighted in me”! This psalm is a Psalm of David, looking back at God’s saving grace, with echoes of theophany — God’s powerful presence revealed in earthquake, smoke, and other amazing visuals, recalling God’s presence in parting the Red Sea, or on Mt. Sinai. This God is big and mighty, more than capable of rescuing those in whom God delights. David has no doubt that God has brought him through many death threats and other perils.

My rescues have not been so dramatic, except perhaps in my own mind. Still, I am convinced that God has rescued me a number of times, dramatic or not. The greatest, of course, was when I first fell on my knees and surrendered to God’s offer of salvation and grace. But at other times God has sent friends to intervene for me, bearing messages I needed to hear, or getting my attention about situations in my life, and I am grateful. God rescued me through their honesty and courage. And there are perhaps thousands of times God has kept me safe unbeknownst to me. God is in the rescue and resurrection business.

My favorite Lutheran pastor, Nadia Bolz-Weber, puts it like this: “God simply keeps reaching down into the dirt of humanity and resurrecting us from the graves we dig for ourselves through our violence, our lies, our selfishness, our arrogance, and our addictions. And God keeps loving us back to life over and over.”

Rescue me! Again, today, rescue me! 

The Very Rev. Sherry Black is a second-career Episcopal priest, and has been a full-time hospital chaplain for nine years. She also serves a small mission church as priest-in-charge, and is dean of her deanery.

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