Tag Archives: Psalms

A Long Obedience In the Same Direction

“The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is . . . that there should be long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.” -Nietsche

imagesIn the flood of new books that come out every day, it’s easy to forget there is life we’ve been longing for in those we somehow missed over 30 years ago. But Eugene Peterson has reformed the way I read the Psalms:

“A person has to be thoroughly disgusted with the way things are to find the motivation to set out on the Christian way. As long as we think that the next election might eliminate crime and establish justice or another scientific breakthrough might save the environment or another pay raise might push us over the edge of anxiety into a life of tranquility, we are not likely to risk the arduous uncertainties of the life of faith. A person has to get fed up with the ways of the world before he, before she, acquires an appetite for the world of grace. Psalm 120 is the song of such a person, sick with the lies and crippled with the hate, a person doubled up in pain over what is going on in the world…”

If you’re a no-nonsense, foundational kind of soul who longs to reestablish the fundamental things, check out A Long Obedience In the Same Direction

How will they know?


Psalm 139


“Even before there is a word on my tongue,

God, You know it all.”


Why don’t we know how beautiful we are to you?

You know our very thoughts.

Why don’t we know how beautiful we are?

You listen for our every sound.

Why don’t we know?


“You have enclosed me behind and before,

and laid your hand on me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

it is too high, I can’t attain it.”


What have you made in us?

What have you made?

We know such a small piece,

mostly hidden from us by pain,

by experiences that steal,

lost to us through negligence,

unintended neglect,

of our own and others’.


But “ …I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

…Your eyes saw my unformed substance

and in your book they were all written,

the days that were ordained for me,

when as yet there was not one of them.”


How I grasp to know the planning

to know the care that went into me,

and continually goes into me this day.

How I strive to know,

to put to words the truth of it,

the incontrovertible truth of what you wrought in me,

of what you fathomed and fashioned,

and left for me to fathom—

the intricacies, the organization, the complexity,

the grand infintessimal structures,

emotional expression, reception, and retention,

the gathering of characteristics, of capabilities, of soul,

of dust shaped differently than any other,

of the dust where 200 billion have trod.


“How precious are your thoughts to me, O God!

How vast is the sum of them!

If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.”


Your thoughts of us are like that.

Like the dust.

Your unquestioning love,

your inexhaustible forgiveness,

All you give is the dust,

as infinite as the light that falls from the stars.


I don’t know why you love us so much;

But I believe in your love.

I don’t know why you believe in us;

But I believe what you believe.

I don’t know why you made us;

But I believe in what you made.

I don’t know how you can know all you know of us—

what was, what is, and what someday is—

and keep loving, keep caring.

But I believe in what you know.


I see this

and believe

and know.


How will they see how beautiful they truly are?

How will they see?