This morning, my quiet time began in Psalm 113. I reached the end and found a familiar verse. Next to it was a note written in purple from five years ago: see prayer from 9/9/10. I had been reading a book on insecurity and thinking about fear. I wrote down my fears then. In the same way that I did just recently. And then I prayed these words:
God, I don’t want to miss out on the glorious riches you DO have for me in this season because I’m too busy grieving over what You don’t.
It’s funny that I keep calling this delayed fertility a season. I know it’s not for forever. But I laughed this morning at how long this “season” has ended up being. And then I realized the irony of our scenario. Moving to this island. Living on 727 square miles of one constant season. I suppose I needed to live in an endless summer to find thankfulness in the endless waiting.
Five years ago, I was reading Psalm 113:9 and Isaiah 54:1 in the amplified version. Both referred to having spiritual children. It’s a very powerful point. And one with so much truth. We have a responsibility as Christians to disciple those younger than us. To raise up spiritual children. I was so encouraged by it then.
But this morning? I didn’t want to read about the promise of spiritual children.
I had to dig. I knew I had to. So I did – somewhat begrudgingly. Mostly because I’m tired of studying this topic. I want to breeze past it and not think about it anymore. Because it seems to be all I think about these days. But I also recognize that there is a reason that God is repeating it so consistently and loudly and frustratingly.
The truth is, I’m tired. I don’t want to rest here to catch my breath. I want to keep on moving right on out of here.
I want out
I’ve been following this trail for a long time. Thinking that the end of it is right around the corner Convinced of it. And then I round the bend and realize that I’m totally and completely lost. I don’t know how to find my way out.
I’ve never been more desperate for this season to be over with. And this morning, I didn’t want to read about spiritual children. So I began to dig. And finally had to acknowledge that I was trying to find an alternative explanation to the amplified version. To understand that the verse doesn’t really only talk about spiritual children. But physical ones too. And I prayed for discernment. That He would help me see His truth. What His Word really says. And not just what I want it to say.
Verse nine is combined with the two verses before it. Almost as an explanatory metaphor. So as I picked apart verse nine, I also had to also look closely at what those verses said in order to fully understand what the psalmist was trying to express.
The King James Version of verse nine says this:
He makes the barren woman to keep house and to be a joyful mother of children.
Psalm 113:9 KJV
The Hebrew for to keep means “to cause to sit down”. The context is a seated position of high honor or royalty. And it points back to the verse before it, where the psalmist first began describing what God does after wondering aloud in pure worship: Who is like the LORD our God? And out of all the things he could marvel at, he writes this: He raises the poor out of the dust. And lifts the needy out of the ash heap, that he may seat him with princes.
I took note of it. And kept going.
House: “those sprung from any family, descendants, offspring, progeny.” There is reference to levirate marriage and a Kinsman Redeemer (an entirely different topic altogether), and a wide variety of other definitions. But none of them point directly back to Psalm 113. So I take it generally as family.
As I looked up the individual Hebrew words, I re-wrote the verse according to what I was learning:
The barren sits down in a position of high honor with a family, joyfully rejoicing, a mother of children.
And then I looked at the cross-references. And read a couple of commentaries. And chewed on it all for awhile. Barrenness, at that time, was regarded as a disgrace. And God, in His grace, replaced the disgrace with a position of honor. I backed up to verse seven. He raises the poor out of the dust. The very last definition of the Hebrew word stopped me in my tracks: lumps of gold in mines, and it referenced Job 28:6. A section where Job is talking about a mine for silver and the place where gold is refined, deep in the recesses of the earth. And there, deep down and hidden away in darkness, lies the treasure:
I made note of it and continued further still in Psalm 113:7 …and lifts the needy out of the ash heap. Also translated dung hill. But the root word was a two-fold combination:
- a quiver for arrows (the idea of hiding)
- to sweep bare (to be wind-swept, bare, be scraped barren by wind; to purge, to cleanse from dregs)
And it all began to swirl together. Everything that was scraped out and purged and wind-swept-bare piled up in a heap of ashes. And poverty. And discouragement. And dust.
And then the “what ifs” began. What if, in my perceived “lowly place” with my fists full of dust … what if that’s where He’s filling my hands with gold? If I continue the conversation from 1 Chronicles 29 and Psalm 107, and take literally the definition for “fill” that I studied yesterday when He fills my hungry soul with goodness, then I can know that with my longing, hangry, jagged-edged, charging-bear, dreaming-and-waking-without soul, He fills my hands to offer large gifts back to Him. Just like David did.
What if my fistfuls of dust were handfuls of gold dust? And He really truly is filling my hands with gold like He did with David’s to turn back around and give to Him as an offering? And what if this quiver that’s been scraped barren – and is in stark contrast to the truth of Psalm 127 that describes a quiver full of children as a reward – is a blessing because that’s where He hides me away? Isaiah himself says it right there in black and white:
in His quiver He has hidden me
But the phrase immediately before it also talks about another place He hides me: in the shadow of His hand. But they are two different hidings. And two different words. One is literally to hide. Of Rahab hiding the spies in Joshua or the prophets hiding in a cave from a king who was bent on killing all prophets 1 Kings 18. The second is how He hides. How He literally covers us over.
What if these treasures of darkness found in fistfuls of gold dust are the result of His covering me over as a necessity? Because through the ash heaps and the scraped barrenness He is passing over with His glory in a way that I cannot see but others can recognize. So He covers me over like He did with Moses in Exodus 33. And passes over me. And my ash heap. And my fistfuls of gold dust. With glory. And goodness. (The same goodness that He fills my hungry soul with in Psalm 107.) And He proclaims His name before me. And then, when my fists are full, and I have gathered up the treasures of darkness from the shadow of His hand to retell of His glory. Then, He will lift me up. And seat me in a place of honor. With a family. Joyfully rejoicing. As a mother of children. With a full quiver.
There are fistfuls of glory gold in the wait. And He really does fill my hungry soul with goodness.