Putting psalm's cry from the depths in context
Published 11:49 pm, Friday, July 5, 2013
Many have heard the Psalm: "Out of the depths, I have cried to you, O Lord!" (Ps.130 ). I always appreciated this psalm as well as the situation that I surmised was behind it, namely, that David (or another) was seeking help from God to be set free from some type of bondage.
While the emphasis appears to be mainly on the depth of oppression of the writer, many scripture scholars interpret it as a thanksgiving psalm for an anticipated deliverance. What a stance of deep faith -- that in the midst of a profoundly difficult situation on behalf of an individual, or as in this instance, the entire ancient people of Israel in captivity -- the Psalmist simply speaks of trust in God.
More InformationFinding freedom 'de profundis'
This psalm brings to mind Victor Frankl's book, "Logotherapy," where the author takes his reader through a scenario, focusing on a person in the midst of a Nazi death camp, expecting that his next day may be his very last. Frankl's theory was to mentally project himself into the future, well beyond the confines of his prison cell, and to look back from that vantage point of new freedom; and to now reassess his current dire position, thus bringing a sense of hope and peace. He did survive.
While this psalm has always been especially close to my heart, I only recently began to fathom its deeper meaning and to realize that my former concept of depth may have been merely touching the surface (pun intended) of the situation. My concept of this psalm has now come to embrace any number of losses, as described in Judith Viorst's intriguing book, "Necessary Losses."
So now I picture this psalm in the context of being in some type of pit, figuratively speaking, a deep hole for which we may have been, at least, partly responsible. Such a hole can take the form of a loss of a special friend (by death, divorce or simply, a geographical separation), the loss of a job, health, property, prestige, popularity, confidence, reputation or some type of power. And from any number of depth-levels, we can still cry out to God for healing and deliverance. Maybe, the picture is now becoming more realistic.
In recent years, I have begun to appreciate "de profundis" in a more profound manner. While I still pay homage to God as transcendent and whose ways are still much greater than my ways, I can better acknowledge God's presence since as Christians we believe God chose to come down to earth and to accompany us in our deepest pit-depressions. (cf. Ps. 22/23) As a wise person once remarked, "we see God best when on the flat of our backs."
My appreciation of a "de profundis" scenario is heightened as I dig more deeply into the mutually compatible disciplines of science and theology.
My thinking continues to evolve, moving me away from the two extreme and opposite poles so adhered to by millions of people throughout the world, namely, materialistic atheism on the one hand and, on the other hand, Christian fundamentalism that adheres to ID (the theory of Intelligent Design of the universe). My understanding is members of each system believe themselves to have all of the answers to the other one's questions about the origin of life.
While I consider both of these groups as being sincere and morally good people, I think that their GPS systems are abysmally lacking in depth.
In a text that was eye-opening to me, by John F. Haught, "Making Sense of Evolution: Darwin, God and the Drama of Life," the author calls all serious researchers, both in the areas of science and of theology, to dig deeply into each of these proven disciplines, giving each its rightful position.
Rather, Haught brings attention to "layered explanation." Some layers would include, for example, the ink on this page, this writer's thoughts, the News-Times' offering this column-space. None of these layers are at odds with the other. We can even embrace all the layers.
Likewise, both science and religion have their own "layered domain" and each may be correct in its own right.
I believe it's time to rise up out of "the pits" and to discover that Creator who allows His/Her many beings to be co-creators in this living and exciting world. Taking that step, I believe, is necessary to be set free.