Sunday, May 2, 2010
Psalm for Sunday: Psalm 24, Verse 2
for God founded it (the world) upon the seas and established it upon the waters.
This verse is a continuation of verse 1, which stated that all the earth is God's. At first it might seem difficult to comment on this, as it is a simple, and actually incomplete, sentence. However I believe there is a deeper truth hidden within this seemingly simple verse.
If one returns to Chapter 1 of Bereshit/Genesis we read how initialyl the earth was all water. Eventually, God divided the waters into the lower waters, or seas, and the upper waters, the source of rain that was believed to be above the sky. Then, on the third day, God commanded land to appear from the lower waters. And so, the waters were gathered together and dry land appeared.
In this psalm the image is not simply that of the waters being drawn back to reveal the land underneath. Rather, as I read it, we find an image of the land being set down upon the primordial waters. This image is found in much ancient mythology, especially in flood narratives. In looking at this cosmic scheme, life on earth becomes much more precarious, and even dangerous. It is as if the land is simply floating on a massive body of water. Any minute the waters could break through or the land could sink. Not a very pleasant image.
However, we are also reminded that this is part of God's plan. It is God who placed the land on top of the waters. It is God that sustains the existence of earth. The image of the land placed over the waters is an image of uncertainty, as alluded to above. But the fact that God is the power behind all of this is what give us, if not exactly certainty, at least a significant degree of comfort.
In life, we are all in that precarious position of floating on top of the waters, as it were. There is always the possibility that they can rise up or we can sink down into them and drown. This is the uncertain, precarious, sometimes frightening nature of existence. But if we remember that we are created in the image of God, that we are part of the One that is divinity, then we can find comfort. Not a comfort that leads us to believe that we will never feel overwhelmed, as if we were drowning in the confusion and difficulties of life. Nor is it a comfort that leads to complacency or certitude. For this can lead us to lose our footing and fall into the waters. But feeling that sense of connection to community, the universe, and the divine allows us to acknowledge the uncertainty as well as the strength and faith to live our lives both in spite and because of it.
Posted by Rabbi Steven Nathan at 12:34 PM
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