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.
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!
“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.
The 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.