I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up and have not let my foes rejoice over me. Psalm 30:1
Whenever I’ve read this psalm’s first verse, I concentrated on extol (to praise with vigor) and the “not let my foes rejoice” part. But, today, as if the Lord made the words jump off the page, I saw the directional words—up and over.
Somewhere in the back of my memory is my father saying those words to me as a child as he hoisted me up. Over what I can’t recall. A fence, the ocean waves on vacation, a curb? But those words bring back a fuzzy warmth. Up and over.
“Up” is a positive, action filled word that means you have conquered something or risen above something. Up out of the mire. Up the corporate ladder. Up the stairs. Upwards and onwards. It’s up to me. Don’t give up.
“Over” can be as well. You can overcome. You’ll get over it. It’s over between us. I’ll win her over. But “over” can also mean to envelope, suffocate, cover. That’s the “over” I see in this passage. Over-whelmed, over-loaded, over-anxious.
That is where the turning to God part comes into play. If I call out to God and praise Him, even in the worst situations, that act in itself lifts me up and out of whatever have overwhelmed me. In Exodus, Moses held up his staff. As long as the Hebrews stared at it, the snakes did not bite them. But when they took their eyes off the staff and looked down at the danger, they were overcome with anxiety, were bit and died. Sort of gross, but I imagine as they fell to the ground, the snakes slithered over them in triumph. Snakes are often a symbol of evil in the Bible and the staff a sign of guidance, like that of a shepherd’s staff used to snatch sheep from danger.
When we lift our eyes up off whatever has us weighed down, our focus shifts, doesn’t it? Half the battle is already won. That is when our Heavenly Father can lift us up and over, because our arms are stretched out to Him for help, rather than trying to climb over it all by ourselves. He lifts us up, and nothing can triumph over us.
Then, the “over” becomes a positive. Jesus conquered over death. This use of “over” means we have lifted over our problem instead of it lifting over us, like a jet piercing the rainy fog and finding the sunlight above the clouds which were obscured below. Or like a loving father grabbing both our arms and gently swinging us up and over the obstacle in our path.
Goes against the grain our American philosophy of “I can do it myself”, but isn’t that the point?