Kent and I wish to thank all of you who have shared so wholeheartedly in our recent baby joy. We appreciate every comment, email, note, offer of help and congratulations. What a privilege to be in this God adventure together!
As a gesture of my gratitude, and an extension of how God’s Word does indeed speak to our daily needs in very relevant ways, I wanted to share Psalm 20 with you during this “babymoon” season. A friend of mine who had been raised Jewish and then later converted to Christianity brought it to my attention just before I had our son. She explained how this particular psalm has been traditionally repeated by the parents during delivery. Once I revisited Psalm 20, I could see why. I was particularly moved by its timeliness in calling out to our Lord in our distress, and in trusting that He desires to give us, in turn, the desires of our own hearts. I ended up meditating upon it during my delivery, in fact (as much as one can meditate upon something at such a time!) and found it to bring about great power, focus and comfort. I never cease to be surprised at how Scripture feeds our souls: that it really is like accessing a mysterious power that is difficult to put into words, and entirely unrivalled.
I was also overjoyed at the final line, given how we planned to name our son “Kingsley” or “King” for short … we had not revealed this decision to anyone yet, so my friend could not have known this added goose bump of relevancy. But I know that my God has a great sense of humour, and that He often speaks to me in puns because He knows I take delight in them, and He knows each of His children so intimately. He knows I love a good cosmic chuckle, and that I appreciate how He is the God of inside jokes as well. :)
I wonder what inside joke He is sharing with you today?
And so, I was prompted to do a little additional research to the role of this psalm in childbirth. As a result, I consulted a few other resources, including Michele Klein’s book A Time to Be Born: Customs and Folklore of Jewish Birth (see especially pp. 141-45, the sections on “Giving Birth” and “Easing Delivery”). Klein explains how the “time of trouble” at the beginning of the psalm and the “day when we call” at the end of the psalm can both be understood as the day of labor and delivery. Of course, labor and delivery are major themes in the Bible at large, culminating in Revelation. Interestingly, this psalm has nine verses symbolic of the nine months of pregnancy. Klein also notes that a long tradition exists of Jews reciting psalms to ease delivery, especially this particular psalm. A midwife might be particularly involved in repeating it to help the woman in labor remain saturated in the words, and lifted up by the prayer.
Praise be to God that I discovered I had a believing nurse right there with me the entire time of my delivery! In a secular hospital setting, nonetheless. Just when I was feeling a bit “abandoned” giving birth now in a “new” city (having relocated here after 20 yrs away and having had my other children in Seattle). My regular doctor was not the one on call. And the environment, though comfortable and a newly renovated hospital, seemed sterile and disassociated. As we progressed through the delivery together, she remained the person I was most dependent upon (God bless nurses in general – special crowns in heaven for that profession, I tell you!). I was even able to share the discovery of this psalm together, and I could only marvel that the Lord would set someone so wise in her faith and so caring in her deeds in my path at this particular moment.
Yes, God loves His people through His people.
How me, the former cynic of fellowship, has been forced to see this, and embrace it, and yearn for it, and be fulfilled by it, again and again and again (as I madly texted my pastor for prayer as well!).
So here is the psalm that surprised me with its joy, that sustained me in my pain, that exulted us as we raised our newborn son to rest against my heart … may it speak to you too, today, and for always (as the Word of God was made to do).
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
May the Lord answer you when you are in distress;
may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.
May he send you help from the sanctuary
and grant you support from Zion.
May he remember all your sacrifices
and accept your burnt offerings.[b]
May he give you the desire of your heart
and make all your plans succeed.
May we shout for joy over your victory
and lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the Lord grant all your requests.
Now this I know:
The Lord gives victory to his anointed.
He answers him from his heavenly sanctuary
with the victorious power of his right hand.
Some trust in chariots and some in horses,
but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.
They are brought to their knees and fall,
but we rise up and stand firm.
Lord, give victory to the king!
Answer us when we call!