Psalm 71 – Disorientation Threshold

Bible opened to Psalm 71 with Chuao Baconluxious Chocolate on white plate

Today’s passage: Psalm 71

Today’s chocolate: Chuao Baconluxious

Going by Brueggemann’s classification scheme, we’ve got a psalm of disorientation on our hands today. The author isn’t identified, but it certainly sounds like David: he’s afflicted and insulted by enemies, threatened by ruthless men, crying out to God for deliverance. It’s a funny thing about disorientation, though. It comes in degrees.

After thirty-three years on planet Earth, I’ve gone through a few hard times, some of them harder than others. It seems there’s some critical point, some threshold of disorientation, beyond which I straight-up lose it. On the low side of the disorientation threshold, I may be suffering and confused, but I’m still trusting in God. But cross that line? I’m a wreck. I despair, I rant, I doubt whether God’s even out there. The simplest tasks eat my lunch. My sleep schedule goes out the window. Critical disorientation overload.

But in Psalm 71, the psalmist is on the stable side of his own personal disorientation threshold. “You are my rock and my fortress” (3), he declares to God. But if I were the one speaking, I could just as easily say, “Are You my rock and my fortress?” What a difference the word order makes–flip two words, tweak the inflection as you say it out loud, and suddenly you’re on the other side of the line.

And I wonder: what does the psalmist have that I don’t? Both he and I came to faith in God early in life, and have known him for a long time. The psalmist writes:

For You are my hope;
O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth.
By You I have been sustained from my birth;
You are He who took me from my mother’s womb;
My praise is continually of You. (5-6)

I’ve been a Christian since I was five, and the author of this psalm has put his faith in God since his youth. Is he less prone to losing it simply because he’s had more experience as a human? Could be. He recognizes that God has been faithful to him since the day of his birth, long before he put his faith in him, long before he had the capacity even to recognize God’s faithfulness. Maybe I tend to forget that it starts with God, not with me.

But I don’t know. There’s this verse toward the end, “You who have shown me many troubles and distresses will revive me again” (20), and at points the author of the psalm seems older than me. Maybe time spent on the dark side of the disorientation threshold increases your capacity to bear disorientation. Maybe I just haven’t seen many troubles and distresses yet.

Question of the Day: Is it desirable to cross your critical disorientation threshold?


2 thoughts on “Psalm 71 – Disorientation Threshold

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