How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light. Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you . . .” (Psalm 36:7-10a ESV).
I hate to admit it, but I tend to eat for comfort when I’m experiencing emotions such as grief, disappointment, frustration, exhaustion, and the like. Papa God and I have had multiple discussions about this for many years. I know I’m turning to “broken cisterns” (Jeremiah 2:13) when I look to food instead of the Lord. But when I’m all worn out, I can’t seem to find the strength to pursue Him.
Something quickened in me the other day, however, when I read these familiar words from Psalm 36. I realized there’s a path laid out in these verses—a roadmap I can easily follow even when I’m depleted, leading me away from my broken cisterns and into satisfaction with Papa God. I invite you to join me in exploring this path.
“How precious is your steadfast love . . .”
My first step on this Psalm 36 path is to turn toward God’s חֵסֵד (chêsêd)—His “steadfast love.” That love is the source of the satisfaction I’m longing for. So I back away from the things that are disquieting me and focus on His lovingkindness. I look into His welcoming face and ask Him about the things that disturb me. I bask in His love and mercy.
“The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”
As I continue down the Psalm 36 path, I step into the shadow of His wings and take shelter there. I’m not ignoring the realities of my life; I’m simply pulling back for a moment of respite. I use my holy imagination to ponder what it’s like in the shadow of His wings. I let Him protect me and comfort me in the face of disturbances, grief, or unsettledness.
“They feast on the abundance of your house . . .”
After I’ve taken shelter under His wings, the Psalm 36 path leads me to a feast. I can stir up my holy imagination once again to ponder questions like, “What’s on the menu? What kind of nourishing food will He serve to strengthen me today? Will there be some of the fruits of the Spirit? Will I partake of the body and blood of Christ? Is this Wisdom’s feast (Proverbs 9)? Will He “prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies?” (Psalm 23).
“[C]ontinue your steadfast love to those who know you . . .”
So once our feast is over, the Psalm 36 path brings me full circle back to steadfast love. Chêsêd bookends this whole process. And it will continue to sustain me as I once again face grief, frustration, disappointment, and exhaustion.
Questions to Ponder: What are your “broken cisterns”? Where do you turn when you’re frustrated, sad, or lonely? How can you utilize this Psalm 36 path?
Prayer: When my heart is hungry, Lord, satisfy me with Your steadfast love (Psalm 90:14).
~ Kathryn Kircher