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A Birthday Psalm

A Birthday Psalm

Our psalm for today, the Birthday of St John the Baptist, is excerpts from Psalm 138 (139) (vv1-3; 13-15).  It is always interesting to ask oneself why particular psalms have been chosen for a particular day and it seems that our answer today lies in verses 13 and 14:

13   For it was you who created my being,

  knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14   I thank you for the wonder of my being,

  for the wonders of all your creation.

Birthdays can give good opportunities to reflect on our lives.  It is fitting, of course, to spend some time on our birthday thanking not only our parents but also our Divine Creator, and to give thanks for all that we are and for all the Divine gifts we have received throughout our lives.

I do love this psalm, especially that phrase, ‘knit me together in my mother’s womb’.  The image of God knitting makes me think of God concentrating on making me ‘just so’; giving the incomplete me His whole attention, as He works to make me just as He intended.  It reminds me that I am ‘wonderfully made’; an apt reminder on birthdays where there is no longer room on the cake for the candles!

God’s attention to detail is a theme in the rest of the psalm too: ‘O Lord, you search me and you know me, you know my resting and my rising, you discern my purpose from afar.  You mark when I walk or lie down, all my ways lie open to you.  Before ever a word is on my tongue you know it, O Lord through and through… 

Thoughts of God’s omniscience overwhelm the Psalmist: ‘Too wonderful for me, this knowledge, too high, beyond my reach’ and he considers running: ‘O where can I go from your spirit?‘ but realises, of course, that any attempt is futile: ‘If I climb to the heavens, you are there...’

What to do, then?  Run anyway?  Put fingers in ears and proclaim, ‘La, la, la, I can’t hear you’?

Happily, the Psalmist gives good example:

23   O search me, God, and know my heart.

O test me and know my thoughts.

24   See that I follow not the wrong path

and lead me in the path of life eternal.  

God knows us better than we know ourselves and, loving us, He wants what is best for us.  What better can we do but pray that our wills be united with His?  Usually, saints’ feasts are held on the day of their death, when they are ‘born into heaven’.  In praying with the Psalmist here, we are declaring our intention to walk in God’s paths, that we might follow those saints in that path and be born into life eternal.


St John the Baptist, pray for us!

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