“I Awake…”

Click the play button above and you can listen to one of the tracks that we’re going to use tomorrow at Zachary’s funeral. It’s based upon Psalm 139 and in the past few days I’ve been reading this again and again as I discover more and more the truths that God teaches through these verses.

The thing that is standing out for me at the moment is that this Psalm, like many others, is messianic. The more I read the Old Testament the more I see that it’s all about Christ. Sure, there are Psalms that are deliberately regal or messianic, but this is one of those that is subtly so.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.
Psalm 139:11-12

If that quote from the psalmist (“Surely the darkness..”) isn’t about being forsaken then nothing is. The psalmist literally descends to the dead (sheol). The darkness completely covers him, the light has gone and it is the depths of night.

And yet he is known. From the moment of conception he is known. There was never a time when YHWH did not see him. Every single moment of his life has already been planned by YHWH. And why?

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Psalm 139:17

“Thoughts” here doesn’t quite get the sense of the noun here – rey here means “purpose” or “aim”. “How precious to me are your purposes” – not just your thoughts but your actual plans YHWH are the things that I delight in. Christ’s death and descent into the grave was not just an accident but specifically the will of the Father. It was his purpose. And in one of those delightful double meanings that Hebrew gives us, the same word used as a verb means to roar, to shout. The purposes of God are the “mighty speech acts” that Vanhoozer identifies – the moments when YHWH doesn’t just do, he says, he proclaims. The Word of God is slain by the word of God to achieve the word of God.

How precious to me are your purposes oh YHWH, for you have planned all this and you will achieve your victory through it. And what is that victory?

I awake, and I am still with you.
Psalm 139:18

ResurrectionThe victory is the resurrection and perfection of all those who are saved. The victory is the triumph over Sheol, over the darkness, over the raging of the night, over death and all that evil can throw at us. Christ is the first who though clothed in darkness and as far from the Father as can be, awakes, and is not just still with him but now gloriously close to him, seated at his right hand. You and I too, if we accept Christ as our saviour will be counted with him, sharing in that glorious inheritance. And so also we pray will Zachary, he who unlike most humans spent his entire mortality clothed in darkness, but at the same time smothered in intimacy. Now, like so many others, he sleeps in Sheol, awaiting that day when his first ever words will not be “Mama” or “Papa” but “I awake, and I am still with you”.

Rest eternal grant to him O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him. May he rest in peace, and rise in glory. Amen.

16 Comments on ““I Awake…”

  1. My heart breaks for you today, and I am sure our Lord is weeping as well. May you draw great comfort from your faith, family, friends, and strangers like me who are praying for you.

  2. Dear Peter and family,

    I am so immensely sorry for your loss. I am the father of two young children myself and I can only imagine the grief you must feel.

    I am glad that you are turning to Almighty God and trusting in Him and trusting Him for the hurt and pain.

    Warmest Love,

    Truth Unites… and Divides

  3. My prayers for you and your family during this time of sorrow. Take comfort from the fact that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

  4. I am sitting at work and crying for your loss, knowing full well the joy Zachary is experiencing in the Lord. This dichotomy is so very difficult to deal with, but prayer, immersion is His word and sleep are so very healing.

  5. Beloved in the Lord,
    My wife and I went through the same turmoil as you have. in 1962 Jean and I suffered the loss of our first son Martin aged 11 months. He had dragged my bib stock into his cot and somehow dislodged the stud and swallowed it (so we later found out).
    15 months later we offered for missionary service in Polynesia where we stayed for 6 years, taking with us our next born Brett who was 2 months old, and third son Glen born in Fiji.
    It was hard for a long while, especially me every time I put on my collar.
    BUT by the work of the Holy Spirit we came to understand in a very real way that we had three sons, Brett lives with his family, Glen lives with his, and Martin lives with Jesus, and we live at home looking after a 99year old Mother-in-law.. We are still family, though we live in different places.
    My love says Keep your eye fixed on Jesus, there you will see Zachary, as we see Martin
    Brian Hatherly+

  6. From Augustine of Hippo,
    “But who will dare to deny, though he may not dare to affirm, that at the resurrection every defect in the form shall be supplied, and that thus the perfection which time would have brought shall not be wanting, any more than the blemishes which time did bring shall be present: so that the nature shall neither be wanting anything suitable and in harmony with that length of days would have added, nor be debased by the presence of anything of an opposite kind that length of days has added; but that what is not yet complete shall be completed, just as what has been injured shall be renewed” (Enchiridion 23, 85:4).”

    Prayers ascending for strengthening and grace for all.

  7. Peter:
    I am so very sorry for your loss.
    My brother committed suicide in July, 2002. While the immediate aftermath of hearing the news remains foggy, in planning his funeral, I remember being very insistent that, among other things, Psalm 139 be read. It has long been among my favorite Psalms, but during the service, it was as if I had just heard it for the first time…especially verse 16: “All my days were appointed for me, before one came to be.” Not some of my days; not most of my days. ALL my days. I have held onto that verse for the past seven years – and its assurance that, even when we are engulfed in darkness, we are not alone.
    At the risk of being presumptuous, I’d like to close with the prayer which I was also insistent be read at my brother’s funeral:

    We give them back to thee, dear Lord, who gavest them to us. Yet as thou didst not lose them in giving, so we have not lost them by their return. What thou gavest thou takest not away, O Lover of souls; for what is thine is ours also if we are thine. And life is eternal and love is immortal, and death is only an horizon, and an horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight. Lift us up, strong Son of God, that we may see further; cleanse our eyes that we may see more clearly; and draw us closer to thyself that we may know ourselves to be nearer to our loved ones who are with thee. And while thou dost prepare for us, prepare us also for that happy place, that where they are and thou art, we too may be for evermore.

    Grace and peace,

  8. Dear Peter and Gayle:
    I cannot imagine the grief you feel. My heart aches for you in your time of sadness and grief. Our prayers are with you. May the God and Father of us all hold you in His healing hands, and grant you peace and healing.

  9. May Almighty God receive Zachary into his bosom at the pleading of Our Lord Jesus Christ. May Mary, the Mother of God, pray for him also. May the night be as bright as the day for him forever.

    Psalm 139 is one of my favorites also. I love the images of the majesty of YHWH and His purposes.

    I pray that your Guardian Angels will support you in this time of sorrow and that your Faith will be strong that Zachary will rest in Peace.

  10. Though I only know y’all from the shared space at Stand Firm I was deeply saddened, particularly as a father, to learn of your tragic loss. I trust that in the hands of our loving Heavenly Father your family will find comfort and assurance in the strength of His eternal Word of hope spoken to us through Christ. Though I do not know the pain and depth of your loss, I have oft found my sadness assuaged in these words from The Valley of Vision:
    We are weary, give us rest,
    ignorant, make us wise unto salvation,
    helpless, let thy strength be made perfect in our weakness,
    poor and needy, bless us with Christ’s unsearchable riches,
    perplexed and tempted, let us travel on unchecked,
    knowing that thou hast said,
    “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee.”
    Blessed be thy name!

    With prayers and condolences.
    Steve Wood

  11. Peter and Gayle, Blessed are those who mourn. May the Lord embrace you with His love and anticipation of the resurrection. You are in our prayers. Mario and Nancy

  12. Peter and family,
    Thinking of you all and know God’s strength will uphold you, his love enfold you and His peace sustain you during these times.

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