How I Got a Splinter in My Soul and How I Got It Out

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February 23, 2021

Psalm 39

To the tune of “My Soul Gives Glory to My God” C.M.
Sing it at seedbed.com/soundtrack.

1 I said, “I will watch all my ways,
and keep my tongue from sin;
I’ll put a muzzle on my mouth
while with such wicked men.”

2 But while I silent was and still,
not even speaking good;
The anguish in my soul increased,
though try as best I could.

3 My heart grew hotter within me,
as, thinking one by one
of all my troubles, the fire burned;
then I spoke with my tongue

4 “Show me, O Lord, what is my life,
the number of my days;
Make me to know how fast it flies;
how fleeting are my days.

5 For You have made life but a breath;
my days but a short span;
My years as nothing before You,
a mere breath is each man.

6 And phantom-like we go about,
we scurry all in vain;
We heap up wealth, yet know not who
will end up with our gain.

7 But now, Lord, what do I look for?
My only hope’s in You.
8 Save me from my transgressions, and
the scorn of fools subdue.

9 I’m silent, and keep my mouth closed,
for You all this have done.
10 Remove Your scourge from me, for by
Your hand I’m overcome.

11 For You rebuke and discipline
all men for all their sin;
And You consume our wealth—it flies,
like moths before the wind.

12 O hear my prayer, Lord, listen, as
for help to You I cry;
Don’t be deaf to my weeping—like
a foreigner am I.

I’m like a stranger to You, as
my fathers were before;
13 Turn Your gaze from me; let me smile,
before I am no more.”

CONSIDER THIS

I remember as a child, somewhere in that season around the so-called “age of accountability,” I got a splinter in my soul. Reading my Bible one morning, I came across Matthew 16:26: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (NASB).

These words bothered me. They still do. They set up a stark contrast I have never managed to get past. On the one hand: the whole world. On the other hand: my soul. I so want to dwell somewhere in the decision-less middle. I want a life overflowing with monetary wealth and I want a soul filled with God. The text tells me I must decide on one or the other. As a kid, I somehow knew the splinter of this saying would pulsate with nagging pain until I aimed my life in one of these two directions. It was clear to me. These roads led to two completely different destinations, and one of those would look like great gain and yet be complete loss. Little did I know at the time how these words would stick in my soul like a tiny shard of wood even to the present day. As an adult, I now know this is not a one-time transaction. It’s an everyday decision.

Though there’s a lot going on in Song 39, these stanzas strike me as the heart of it:

“Show me, O Lord, what is my life,
the number of my days;
Make me to know how fast it flies;
how fleeting are my days.

For You have made life but a breath;
my days but a short span;
My years as nothing before You,
a mere breath is each man.

And phantom-like we go about,
we scurry all in vain;
We heap up wealth, yet know not who
will end up with our gain.”

It’s a prayer for the big picture. The song lifts me out of the messy melody of today and shows me the music of a lifetime. How often am I getting to a place where I can see the whole score and grasp the shortness of the soundtrack of my life? This is the agenda of Song 39.

So what does it profit a person to gain the whole world and forfeit his or her soul?

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” (Matt. 4:8–10)

I bet he was singing Song 39. Give it a shot today. Sing it.

Ask Yourself. Share with Another.

This is usually where the proverbial rubber meets the road. Have you come to realize the major players competing for top spot in your deepest self? One of the upsides of having everything is the deep, holy discontent it can produce in the pit of your soul. Feel it?

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

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