Good Lines

Psalm 16 wins my heart as my most favorite psalm, and today I learn from Charles Spurgeon’s commentary that, when translated well, this psalm’s title is this: “The Psalm of the Precious Secret” or the “Golden Psalm.”

I memorized this psalm as a struggling graduate student at the University of Michigan in 1998 because of the line, “I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.” I also couldn’t get over David’s insistence in verse 6 that “the boundary lines for me have fallen in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.”

I thought about the boundary lines of my life that year and all the ways I felt shaken deep inside. I thought about being a single woman with little income in a strange city. I thought about my battle with depression and anxiety. As I meditated on this psalm, I learned to rejoice and find these boundaries pleasant because of what I was learning and how God alone could be my refuge. I learned to “not be shaken” no matter what trouble or distress came into my life. What terrible, beautiful years!

Nearly two decades later, I find I’m still choosing–by faith–to find God’s boundary lines pleasant. As I age, I think about the boundary lines God draws around my life in many ways–physically and emotionally. I’m challenged to rejoice in the pleasant places of not overeating, for example. I’m challenged to listen to God and understand the boundary lines He places for me relationally or even in my leisure time.

During those years in Michigan, I studied 19th century British poetry. I loved poetry because of what happens to language when put under the pressure of rhyme, meter, and the limitations of minimal, stripped down expression. We see things more clearly; the words become beautiful and mysterious. Boundary lines–all those limits that we resist at first–come to showcase something we really need to see and understand.

The boundary lines are good lines. They are pleasant places. What a precious secret, a golden truth.


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