For I am poor (depressed, in mind or circumstances, wretched, afflicted,
humble, lowly, needy, poor)
and needy (in want, a beggar, needy, poor),
and my heart (inner man, mind, will, heart, understanding, seat of courage)
is wounded (profaned, defiled, polluted, desecrated, violated, wounded, pierced)
within me (my inward part, seat of thought and emotion, my center).
I fade away like an evening shadow; I am shaken off like a locust. Psalm 109:22-23
I can identify with all of this Psalm – the depression, the woundedness, the feeling like I am in darkness. But I can especially relate to that last line: “I fade away like an evening shadow; I am shaken off like a locust.”
I can understand shaking off a locust or grasshopper in creepy disgust. The feel of their sticky little feet and they are ugly and they spit that brown goo. They are associated with curse and plague, eating everything in their path, destroying the green life. To me, this is like rejection, being viewed as creepy, disgusting, gross, and being shaken off. I feel like the real me was shaken off in my childhood, and I have been shaking myself off in self-hatred ever since. So, this is something that God is showing me that I have to work on for sure.
On the other hand, locusts were considered a clean animal that you could eat, that could bring nourishment. According to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, peoples in the Middle East were “accustomed to feed upon locusts, either raw or roasted and seasoned with salt (or prepared in other ways), and the Israelites also (according to Leviticus 11:22) were permitted to eat them.” John the Baptist ate them in the wilderness.
John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. Matthew 3:4
John’s food was locusts AND honey. And in that verse is an amazing hidden treasure. There was another time that God fed his people in the desert with honey – honey from the rock. Moses identified the Rock as the Lord God.
He [the Lord] is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just … He nourished him [Israel] with honey from the rock … Deuteronomy 32:4, 13
… with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” Psalm 81:16
John was fed in the desert place with these creepy, disgusting insects AND the honey from the Rock. Isn’t that what God does? He makes us, creepy as we are, nourishment, food for a hungry world with Christ, as we abide in Christ?
I have felt shaken off in disgust. Yet, as I looked at the meaning of the word translated “shaken” in Psalm 109, I found treasure there too. Cool thing about this word is that it is “a primitive root, probably identical with 05286 (means growl), through the idea of the rustling of mane, which usually accompanies the lion’s roar.”1 The Lion of Judah roars and I am shaken like a locust.
But I don’t think He is roaring in disgust or rejection. He is roaring in anger at my sin and what the sins of others have done to me. He is roaring with the pain and groaning of a broken world. And like a lion shaking its mane, he will shake these things off and set me free. He will bring new life, resurrection. He will transform me by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2).
Because, though I fade away like an evening shadow, or I am “like a late afternoon shadow made by the descending sun that will soon be swallowed up by complete darkness,”2 the Lord will bring me light.
The word translated “shaken” in the Psalm, is the same word as used in Job 38:13 “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?”
I love that verse, and I have blogged about it before, but now I see something else. Do you see it? The dawn arrives, the Light of the world comes and dispels the deepening darkness, and the earth is shaken, I am shaken.
The Lion shakes his mane and roars. I am shaken off like a locust into a new day. Yet, not in disgust and rejection, but rather to “shake me forward and shake me free” as in the Rich Mullins song, Calling Out Your Name.
From the place where morning gathers
You can look sometimes forever ’til you see
What time may never know
What time may never know
How the Lord takes by its corners this old world
And shakes us forward and shakes us free
To run wild with the hope
To run wild with the hope
Lion of Judah roar! I am depressed and wretched in my mind; my heart is wounded, pierced and violated. I have been shaken off and rejected as disappointing and disgusting. I am about to be swallowed up in the darkness. Bring your Light as the dawn and shake off my sticky little feet from clinging to this world, from wrong thinking and lies, from idolatries, from fear and doubt and despair. Sweep me up to run wild with you, wild with hope.
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. Isaiah 40:22
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe … Hebrews 12:28
1Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance
2NET Bible notes.
Image by Michael https://flic.kr/p/8cP1vw