1 For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.
3 How long will all of you attack a man
to batter him,
like a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
4 They only plan to thrust him down from his high position.
They take pleasure in falsehood.
They bless with their mouths,
but inwardly they curse. Selah
5 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence,
for my hope is from him.
6 He only is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7 On God rests my salvation and my glory;
my mighty rock, my refuge is God.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us. Selah
9 Those of low estate are but a breath;
those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
they are together lighter than a breath.
10 Put no trust in extortion;
set no vain hopes on robbery;
if riches increase, set not your heart on them.
11 Once God has spoken;
twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
12 and that to you, O Lord, belongs steadfast love.
For you will render to a man
according to his work.
I sat in the hospital room with an old parishioner, Howard. He had led such an interesting life. He had landed in the invasion of North African in World War II. He had taken part in the invasion of Italy and again in Normandy on D-Day. He had a long career in industry after the war. He had a loving marriage and a beautiful, faithful family. Now he lay dying in his bed, his lungs laboring with every breath. He had caught some pneumonia like affliction at the funeral of a friend. His family and I wept. We sang some good songs. And then, with a final gentle breath, Howard died.
Nurses tell me that one of the hardest things they do is serve someone who has no one to accompany them in their dying. I grieve for their solitude in those last moments of their lives. And yet, I also read this psalm with comfort. David waits for God alone. My presence and certainly that of his family was good for Howard as he lay dying. I am glad I was able to be there, singing those songs. But on that day, I could only comfort Howard. I could not save. God alone was Howard’s rock and salvation. God had preserved his life in combat. God had blessed him with faith, family, and more. And on this day, as a last enemy relentlessly attacked and battered him, God alone was his refuge and strength.
Those of low estate are but a breath, those of high estate are a delusion, they are all ephemeral in the deadly final analysis. Only God, having passed through death to life, is trustworthy. Once God has spoken and twice I have heard. God has both power and love. The power to rescue and steadfast love that accomplishes our rescue.
Read this psalm again. Read it slowly and carefully. Say a prayer for those whose lives draw to a close today. Pray that this psalm is on their lips and minds and that they trust in God, their rock, their salvation, their fortress, and their strength.