Psalm 104. What A Wildly, Wonderful World.

Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 104. (MsgB)

What a wildly wonderful world, God!
You made it all, with Wisdom at your side, made earth overflow with Your wonderful creations.

All the creatures look expectantly to You to give them their meals on time.
You come, and they gather around; You open Your hand and they eat from it.
If You turned Your back, they’d die in a minute—
Take back Your Spirit and they die, revert to original mud;
Send out Your Spirit and they spring to life— the whole countryside in bloom and blossom.

The glory of God—let it last forever! Let God enjoy His creation!

Today, let’s play Name That Tune.

The date is October, 1967. The world is a pretty volatile place. An unpopular war in Vietnam is beginning to tear our nation apart. Tension surrounding racial issues is at an all-time high. A six-day war in the Middle East threatens to undermine any long-term peace efforts between Israel and her Arab neighbors. Free-love and dangerous drugs are on the increase amongst young people and society is starting to feel the stress of such activity. Over the next twelve months Americans will see President Johnson choose not to run for re-election, primarily  because of the unpopularity of the Vietnam War. We’ll watch on TV uncontrollable rioting in the streets of Chicago; witness the violent assassinations of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, and see racial tensions spill out across nearly every city across our nation.

American songwriters, Bob Thiele and George David Weiss, sat down during these turbulent times and penned a song that would eventually become a classic in American pop music. It was written as an antidote for the increasingly racially and politically charged climate of everyday life in the United States, but quite honestly, this song had a hard time gaining any traction in a music world where acid rock and radical anti-war themes were the rage. The song was originally offered to Tony Bennett, but he turned it down flat. When first released in October of 1967, this song sold less than 1,000 copies in the USA, primarily because the president of ABC Records, the label the song was first produced by, hated the project.

The artist who recorded this hit tune was an older musician at the time, near the end of his illustrious musical career. Known more for his instrumental work, this sixty-six year old musician had a gravelly voice to go along with his magnetic personality. Here’s a hint. The airport in New Orleans is named after this gentle jazz trumpeter.

Final clues. This song was promoted in America only because of its rising popularity in England. It quickly hit #1 on the British charts, becoming England’s number one seller in 1968. Today, this tune has become a classic and has been used extensively in both TV and movies, being inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.

Can you name that tune?

Wait for it.

What a Wonderful World, recorded by who else?

Louis Armstrong.

As I ponder on Psalm 104 today, my first thoughts bring me back to 1967, Louie Armstrong, and What A Wonderful World. Apparently, these themes of God’s big, bright creation, full of wonder and marvelous life, never get old in the human spirit. As I see it, in a world today that looks pretty dark and gloomy at times, maybe it would be appropriate to write yet another song in the vein of Psalm 104 or What A Wonderful World? Until that happens, I’ll leave you today with these timeless thoughts…

I see trees of green, red roses too.
I see ’em bloom for me and for you.
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

I see skies of blue, clouds of white.
Bright blessed days, dark sacred nights.
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

The colors of a rainbow so pretty in the sky.
Are also on the faces of people going by.
I see friends shaking hands, sayin’, “How do you do?”
They’re really sayin’, “I love you.”

I hear babies cry, I watch them grow.
They’ll learn much more than I’ll never know.
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

My prayer:  Father, thank You for the timeless reminder that despite how dark and dreary the world might become, there is always hope in the midst of the pain. Holy Spirit, open my eyes to Your wonderful world all around me, empowering me to always see the good in the midst of a ton of bad. For Your Name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: How have I allowed the darkness and gloom in this world to overshadow my belief in goodness? While I can’t live in a world where rose-colored glasses remove my awareness of pain and suffering, how can I choose to always side with good, believing the best, while hoping and praying for a better world in the days ahead?

So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?

Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Contemplative Activist network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.

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