“In [the heavens] He has placed a tent for the sun,
Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber;
It rejoices as a strong man to run his course.
Its rising is from one end of the heavens,
And its circuit to the other end of the them;
And there is nothing hidden from its heat.”
What is it about joy that makes us want to run? There are some days when I can breathe so deep the sigh of peace that it sweeps through the whole of me like a spring breeze. I can’t exactly account for all of the reasons why the strength of that oxygen fills the cells and the muscles and the lungs more than another day, but one common denominator is found – the Lord is just so good. When I came across this verse this morning, I could relate so well to the sun, I just couldn’t hold it in or resist inviting others into this experience.
David is watching the morning sun break forth over the earth in its jubilant proclamation of the day. Instead of worshiping it, He reflects on its demonstration of praise to the Lord, and describes it with two metaphors.
- The Bridegroom Coming Out of His Chamber: The “Chamber” in this case is what’s called a “chuppa,” which is a small tent that a couple is married under. A tallit, or (simplistically) a prayer shawl, is hung over the top of the small structure as a “tabernacle” or “tent”, and symbolized the shekinah glory (or manifest presence) of the Lord coming down and uniting the couple as one flesh. I believe this was not just about the creative miracle of the Lord’s presence uniting the couple, but also about the unity between the Lord and the couple, to empower them, to heal them, to participate in the creation of children, and to fulfill His will together as one new unit.I often thought this verse described the bridegroom emerging in the morning from his wedding night, but the use of this word makes me think it is the moment after the couple is announced in the marriage ceremony, emerging from under the chuppa. Bryan and I were married this way, and I remember a moment in the midst of the ceremony when I looked up and discovered that a kind friend had replaced the sheet I had planned to use with a tallit! I noticed this after I felt the weighty presence of the Lord between us as our pastor prayed over us. It was truly awe-inspiring. I saw Bryan emerge from that tent with such a vibrant overflow of joy and love that he couldn’t help but display–the confidence, the victory, the finality that his love was completely his forever.
In the same way, we have the opportunity, within the daily activities of our lives, to display the joy of union with the Lord in ardent worship as if it were the first moment when we said yes to His call.
- The Strong Man Running His Course: Several years ago, I was listening to Imogen Heap’s song, “Can’t Take It In.” It is about Lucy Pevensie in the Chronicles of Narnia, as she is awakening to the breathtaking reality of new possibilities and adventure–and her full, uninhibited participation in them. In the song, Heap sings,
“Oh empty my heart
I’ve got to make room for this feeling
It’s so much bigger than me.”
An image flashed through my mind while I listened. The setting was a warm day in Cambridge along a meadow path in the countryside I had visited a few years earlier. A sweet breeze gathered the pleasant fragrance of the grass and spring buds in the heat of the day. I saw a woman in a white dress with her hair blowing backwards, running broadly with all the breath in her lungs–strong, enduring, joyful. I’m not sure where it came from, or why it was there, but I longed with all my heart to be healthy enough to express worship with this kind of sustained energy–the physical need to express love emerging from my heart by emptying everything out, breathing it in, and releasing it again and again. I have since been growing in physical health to the point where this reality is not far away, and I can better understand the metaphor of the sun as a strong man, running his course across the earth, unrestrained, able to fully exhibit the joy of worship to the creator by shedding it abroad on every man.
The metaphor of the sun’s radiant course is a tangible example of how the love of the Lord empowers us to dream, to live, to accomplish, to conquer, and to endure with joy. Oh how I long to live in this vibrant love, that all may see and rejoice in the Lord.
*(Photo by Saskia Laura Potter)