Fellow Passengers: This week’s Poetry Passage* (Psalm 18:1-19) transports me to Easter Sunday in sunny southern California, April of 2010, where families had many options for celebrating the day: sunrise services, egg hunts on the beach, a 2 hour cruise on the Inspiration Hornblower including photos with the Easter Bunny and champagne brunch. Those who chose to spend the afternoon down at the multiplex for the 2:00 viewing of the 3D blockbuster, Clash of the Titans, got more 3D than they bargained for. Toward the end of the movie, after Hades had unleashed the Furies and a fantastic aerial battle ensued with Perseus atop Pegasus, the giant sea monster Kraken emerged, destroying Andromeda before being turned to stone by the head of Medusa. It was an earth-shaking experience, literally, because as the Kraken started wreaking havoc, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake shook the theater. Of the many tweets coming out of the multiplex that day, my favorite is from @jerslater: Earthquake hit while I was watching the Kraken scene in TITANS. For a second there, I thought the movie was getting good. The epicenter was 100 miles away along the Laguna Salada fault in Mexico’s Cucapah Mountains. Geologist John Fletcher described this particular quake as a highly unusual event, telling the Christian Science Monitor that It dropped the high mountains of the Sierra Cucapah down. I can’t name another example where a surface rupture actually lowered the local topography.
John Fletcher apparently hadn’t read his Bible, for there are numerous instances there where surface ruptures lower mountains and raise valleys. Today’s Passage illustrates one of these ruptures, and while no one was there to tweet about it, the poet King David certainly sang about it. The context was a clash of titans in its own right, as you can discover from the context of this song, found in 2 Samuel 21 (the Psalm is repeated in 2 Samuel 22). The hellacious Philistines had unleashed their furies, in the form of giants, on the Israelites. One giant, Ishbi-benob, had a spear weighing 300 shekels of bronze (sounds heavy to me) and went after David. But my favorite was a giant from Gath, who, the story tells us, had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot, twenty-four in number. He must have had his own special glove maker. And if all this battle in the land of the giants wasn’t enough to worry about, David had to deal with some furies in his own family, as father-in-law Saul seemed to be off his meds again and was doing all he could to make his daughter a widow. It was in this context that David experienced some kind of miraculous transformation of the situation, and sings the praises of the conquering hero. The Lord, who made the earth reel and rock and the mountains tremble, came in riding on a cherub, breathing fire and thundering his message, sending arrows of lightning to scatter the enemies. The very foundations of the earth were laid bare when God blew smoke rings from his nostrils.
I think movies like Clash of the Titans and biblical imagery like this in the Psalms speak to any of us who have experienced any magnitude of surface ruptures in our lives. Whether we’re dealing with the world of power politics or workplace dysfunction or family strife, there’s something that resonates with the fantastic imagery of gods at war or God doing a number on the six-fingered and six-toed giants. And there’s something hopeful in imaging those mountains of injustice being laid low, and those valleys of despair being elevated to new heights. There’s something to be said for having faith in a Power that can saddle up a cherub and ride in on the wings of the wind to blow some serious smoke and shake up our world, rescuing us from the grip of meanness and hatefulness and animosity. Worthy to be praised, indeed.
How about you? Where does this Poetry Passage take you on your journey of faith? Feel free to comment.