Scripture can be found here...
I run from hate
I run from prejudice
I run from pessimists
But I run too late “I Run To You”[i]
We have a psalm of David this morning… let’s start there.
Tradition tells us David wrote many (if not most) of the psalms in our bibles. And if we were to judge by the text alone, this psalm could easily be considered a psalm from the shepherd-king’s hand.
David was accustomed to finding himself in the middle of battle… besieged… on the run. As we read his story in 1 and 2 Samuel, the first thing we learn about David is that he is a shepherd, and God’s chosen. The second thing we learn is that he enters into the service of the current king as his armor-bearer. The third thing we learn is that he plays the lyre, a little u-shaped harp, and his music soothes the king’s melancholy. The fourth thing we learn, but really, maybe the first thing we all learned as children, has to do with a sling, and a few rocks, and a giant Philistine (named Goliath). Stories of David’s gifts as a soldier and a military commander are woven throughout his narrative. And, if this psalm is any indication, he met each battle with the confidence that God would see him through.
The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Should I fear anyone?
The Lord is a fortress protecting my life.
Should I be frightened of anything?
When evildoers come at me trying to eat me up—
it’s they, my foes and my enemies,
who stumble and fall!
If an army camps against me,
my heart won’t be afraid.
If war comes up against me,
I will continue to trust in this… Psalm 27:1-3
David lives through situations I can hardly imagine, and hope never to learn about firsthand. In this psalm, he describes one situation with, as Professor Rolf Jacobson hints, one foot in terror and one foot in absolute trust. This is a psalm of trust. Jacobson writes:
… psalms of trust are the words of those who aren't being thrown from a bull for the first time. This crisis isn’t these psalmists’ first rodeo. They’ve been thrown before, had the floor fall out from beneath them before. And even though the crisis is horrible, they are able to trust on the basis of past experience that a brighter tomorrow will soon dawn.[ii]
I run my life
Or is it running me
Run from my past
I run too fast
Or too slow it seems
When lies become the truth
That's when I run to you… “I Run To You”
The song we’re pairing with this psalm isn’t about the shepherd-soldier in the battlefield. It’s about battles most of us are more familiar with. On the one hand, these are the battles that fill up our headlines… battles against hate and prejudice. And on the other, they are the more mundane struggles—deadlines, relationships, and the impossibly long list of commitments and conflicts and concerns we walk around with every day.
What are our battles?
Who do we run to?
This world keeps spinning faster
Into a new disaster so I run to you
I run to you baby
And when it all starts coming undone
Baby you're the only one I run to
I run to you… “I Run To You”
I have asked one thing from the Lord—
it’s all I seek:
to live in the Lord’s house all the days of my life,
seeing the Lord’s beauty
and constantly adoring his temple. Psalm 27:4
When we are in the midst of the battle, we find out who we run to. And for many of those day-to-day conflicts and concerns, we run to a friend, or partner, or spouse, or parent. But some battles find us like David, running to the one we believe has power over life and death. I can remember standing in a room in my house on what was arguably the worst day of my life. As I stood there, a hymn popped into my head—not a hymn I had grown up with, not even a hymn I particularly loved.
On Christ the solid rock I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is singing sand.
I will be honest. Even though I have believed myself to be a person of faith for as long as I can remember, I was surprised at how powerfully that song rose up in me on my worst day. Sometimes we don’t even realize who we will run to until we’re halfway there.
Because he will shelter me in his own dwelling
during troubling times;
he will hide me in a secret place in his own tent;
he will set me up high, safe on a rock. Psalm 27:5
After the battles that brought David to the throne were fought and won, he entered Jerusalem triumphantly with the ark of the covenant—that container that was believed to hold the two tablets on which God had written the law with God’s own finger—whatever that means! And David settled in his house, and, we are told, God gave him rest, for a time, from the battles with his enemies. And then, it occurred to David, and he said out loud to his advisor, the prophet Nathan: “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” And David thought he would build God a temple.
But God sent back word through Nathan that, no, that was not David’s work to do. God would designate the work of building a temple to David’s son. God would, instead, choose to keep traveling with David.
God would choose to be with David in a tent, which could be picked up, packed up, and transported.
God would choose a nimble, on-the-road life with David.
Much as God chooses to be with us.
And our love's the only truth
That's why I run to you “I Run to You.”
This psalm reminds us that the one we run to is the one who is actually already with us… who, in fact, may have been holding us the whole time. The one we run to is the God who is ready to travel, who, when push comes to shove, chooses not to be stationary, but to be ready to move. Sheltering us in God’s own dwelling during troubling times. Hiding us in God’s own tent. God’s love, our greatest truth. Our trust, the gift of that love. Thanks be to God. Amen.
[i] Single from country group Lady Antebellum, from their self-titled album, released January 26, 2009.
[ii] Rolf Jacobson, “Commentary on Psalm 27:1-6,” Narrative Lectionary Summer Series, Working Preacher, http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2506.