Preserve me, God, I take refuge in you.
I say to the Lord, “You are my God;
My happiness lies in you alone.”
He has put into my heart a marvelous love
For the faithful ones who dwell in his land.
Those who choose other gods increase their sorrows;
Never will I offer their offerings of blood
Never will I take their names upon my lips.
O Lord, it is you who are my portion and my cup;
It is you yourself who are my prize.
The lot marked out for me is my delight
Welcome indeed the heritage that falls to me.
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
Who even at night directs my heart.
I keep the Lord ever in my sight;
Since he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart rejoices, my soul is glad;
Even my body shall rest in safety.
For you will not leave my soul among the dead
Nor let your beloved know decay.
You will show me the path of life.
The fullness of joy in your presence;
At your right hand happiness forever.
Reflection – When I made final promises in Madonna House in 1998, one of the members of my class who is a gifted musician wrote a beautiful setting of this psalm for the occasion. We were a pretty musical bunch making finals that year, so we sang it together as the responsorial psalm for the Mass that day.
The refrain was ‘You will show me the path of life, the fullness of joy in your presence.’ Her setting of this psalm has since become a treasured part of the MH liturgical repertoire—in fact, we just sang it yesterday as a recessional.
This psalm has always held a special place in my heart—my own ‘final promises’ song, symbolic of the total commitment to God we try to make here in this community, and of the reason for it. Of course, that reason is that the Lord is so good to us, so beautiful, so loving. A treasure in a field worth selling everything to possess, a God so good all other gods and goods are nothing, a inheritance that ‘cannot be soiled or spoiled or ever fade away.’
All the words of delight, joy, gladness, rejoicing that pervade this psalm are welcome indeed, especially after the amount of distress and trouble we have had in Pss 1-15. Here in this psalm, the enemies have abated their assaults for a time, trouble has eased, there is a brief space of peace and security. And in this time of respite, we can simply rejoice in the God who is everything for us and in whom we have all we need.
It is really very important that we return to this psalm and to the attitude of mind and heart that it contains. Life is, indeed, hard sometimes, perhaps oftentimes. Life has its troubles and sorrows and pain, and there is no getting away from that. The God who is our portion and cup, who does not leave our soul among the dead, who shows us the path of life, in whom our whole being body and soul can rest secure—this is the God we need to spend our days with in the midst of all that.
This is the real God, the One who is. And in light of that (if we really believe in that God as we say we do), nothing else really matters, does it? Our happiness lies in Him alone – so let’s live as if that is true, and put all our focus on letting him direct our hearts so that we live, and rejoice, in his presence forever.