My soul clings to Thee, Thy right hand holds me up. Psalm 63:8
There are many short verses in the Psalms (and in other places) that can be used as short, repetitive prayers throughout the day. They are easy to memorize, easy to repeat over and over, and provide comfort and relaxation to a tired soul. Psalm 63:8 is one of many examples.
Let’s take the words “My soul” and fill in the blank after them with how you are feeling.
My soul ___________
For me, that might mean, “My soul is anxious.” “My soul is questioning and wondering what is going to happen.” “My soul is fearful about getting sick and sending our son to school.” Use your own life to fill in the blank “My soul____________.”
Now, complete the phrase with the words of Psalm 63:8: “My soul clings to Thee.” In other words,
“My soul clings to God.”
Now meditate on that, what that means.
My soul clings to God, and because it clings to God, I am hopeful. While others may let me down, it is God who comforts me and bring me up. While there might not be assurance of much in the world today, I am assured of God’s love, and most definitely I am assured of God’s presence.
Many of us require people, or material things to “hold us up.” When we start to lose those people or those things, we start to fall down. Many of us have lost things that hold us up—a job, a vacation, time with family, peace of mind, a sense of control, etc. These are obvious things we look to as pillars to keep us “up.” A table must have a least three legs to hold it up. We, however, can function with one pillar, if that pillar is God. It is His right hand that can hold us up, even when everything else lets us down.
Psalm 63 is one of the “Six Psalms” that is read at the beginning of the Orthros service in the Orthodox Church. It begins by painting the image of a soul and body that are thirsty and faint, “as in a dry and weary land where no water is.” (63:1) The oasis from where we drink in the relief of God is the sanctuary, where we behold His power and glory. (63:2) And this sanctuary can be the church, or can be the more private sanctuary of private prayer.
The Psalm directs our attention to God’s “steadfast love (as) better than life.” If the best thing in life is God’s steadfast love, and that love doesn’t take a break or become inaccessible at any time, then even in the midst of pandemic and anxiety, we can still feel joy because we are assured of God’s love at all times.
Verse 6 reminds us to meditate on God in our beds, during the night, and by extension at all times. We daydream about all kinds of things. We think about frivolous things like what we would do if we won the lottery. We should make sure thoughts of God also become part of our thought pattern throughout the day and night.
Finally, verses 9-10 are assurance that those who seek to destroy our lives will not be successful. This doesn’t mean only mean but circumstances, such as the one we are in. It is true that some lives have ended over covid-19. In this case, “life” refers more to spiritual life than biological life. That which seeks to destroy our spirit can never destroy our spirit, because this is where God dwells in each of us. So while my life may be destroyed through injury, illness or death, my “life”, meaning my values, my good works, and most important, my faith, cannot be destroyed by anything. This verse reminds me of the time I spoke with a cancer patient, shortly before he died and he said “cancer is going to KILL me, but it is not going to kill ME.” Things can DESTROY us, but they can’t destroy US. And there is a crucial difference.
As you go through the day today, repeat Psalm 63:8: “My soul clings to You, Your right hand holds me up.” Indeed when a soul clings to God, nothing can destroy it or the bond it share with God.
O God, Thou art my God, I see Thee, my soul thirsts for Thee; my flesh faints for Thee, as in a dry and weary land where no water is. So I have looked upon Thee in the sanctuary, beholding Thy power and glory. Because Thy steadfast love is better than life; my lip will praise Thee. So I will bless Thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on Thy name. My soul is feasted as with marrow and fat, and my mouth praises Thee with joyful lips, when I think of Thee upon my bed, and meditate on Thee in the watches of the night; for Thou hast been my help, and in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to Thee; Thy right hand upholds me. But those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths of the earth; they shall be given over to the power of the sword, they shall be prey for jackals. But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by Him shall glory; for the mouths of liars will be stopped. Psalm 63
Cling to God today!
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The Revised Standard Version of the Bible is copyrighted 1946, 1952, 1971, and 1973 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. and used by permission. From the Online Chapel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
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