"Jeremiah" by Michelangelo, Sistine Chapel
There are instances when I read God's Word and am overcome, to the point that I simply shut my Bible.
One occasion is infrequent, found in reading Song of Solomon. If I happen upon the book's eight short chapters, I typically take in both the one-time romance and allegory of eternal romance with a few sighs and smile. Then every now and again, the love words of our Beloved Bridegroom become too much while He is away with His Father:
O my love, you are as beautiful as Tirzah,
Lovely as Jerusalem ...
Turn your eyes away from me,
For they have overcome me.
~ Song of Solomon 6:4-5 (NKJV)
The other occasion is encountered frequently, and that is reading the prophets (Job thru Malachi and Revelation). These books carry oracles which their authors often described with the word maśśâ'. The Hebrew word is used by the prophets 38 times, carrying the connotation of "heavy." In the NKJV it is translated as "oracle" or "utterance" ten times, and once as "desire." But the other 27 occurrences receive the more literal translation: "burden."
The burden which the prophet Habakkuk saw.
~ Habakkuk 1:1 (NKJV)
I don't need to see the word "burden" to feel in their words the great heaviness borne by these men of God in His revelations to them. The same Spirit which spoke to them whispers to me. He lives in me. And I feel that His great heaviness, which He once shared with the ancients, has yet to leave Him.
How can I not make it my own?
For when I spoke, I cried out;
I shouted, "Violence and plunder!"
Because the word of the LORD was made to me
A reproach and a derision daily.
Then I said, "I will not make mention of Him,
Nor speak anymore in His name."
But His word was in my heart like a burning fire
Shut up in my bones;
I was weary of holding it back,
And I could not.
~ Jeremiah 20:8-9 (NKJV)
Jeremiah was certainly not the only "weeping prophet." What did Isaiah and David feel when they prophesied of Jesus' sufferings? What did any of the prophets feel when they saw the destruction their loved ones would suffer, and told them of the comfort they might have in repentance, all to no avail?
If my Bible is sometimes shut upon the prophets, it is not because I cannot bear another word about the suffering of people.
It is because I am overwhelmed with the burden of my Lord's suffering.
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Copyright 2011, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.