“Grass doesn’t grow on a busy street!” Or so the cliché goes in regards to bald heads. The image of grass growing on a bald head has been stuck in my head this week as I reflected on Psalm 129.
Psalm 129 is composed of two sections. The first is a message of trust. Despite many hardships, evil did not prevail. “Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth; yet they have not prevailed against me.” (2) The back of Israel has been beaten like a field that has been plowed: “The plowers plowed upon my back, they made long their furrows.” (3) Or like a back that has been beaten with a whip: “He has cut the cords of the wicked.” (4b) Still, the psalmist proclaims, “The Lord is righteous.” (4a)
The second section is an imprecatory psalm, bringing down curses upon the enemies of Israel: “May all who hate Zion be put to shame and turned backward!” (5) The writer goes on to state: “Let them be like the grass on the housetops, which withers before it grows up, with which the reaper does not fill his hand or the binder of sheaves his bosom.” (6-7) In a land dependent on the crops grown each year to stave off starvation, to curse the crop is to call down famine upon the people.
Besides this, they are to be reduced to workers in the field who receive no welcome, no friendly words: “While those who pass by do not say, ‘The blessing of the Lord be upon you! We bless you in the name of the Lord!’” (8) Let them be cut off from the community, a harsh curse.
I love the imagery of Old Testament poetry! It’s full of analogies and metaphors rooted in the natural world. The flat roofs of houses in Palestine were coated with a protective layer of clay. Grass that managed to grow up through this clay after a heavy rainstorm, was short-lived. Grass is mentioned in other psalms, usually in reference to the shortness of life. (“Man’s days are like grass.” 103:15) This grass on the housetop lasts for an even shorter lifespan than the grass of the field.
While the writer of this psalm was invoking a curse upon his enemies, I found myself changing this curse into a blessing: “May all your worries be like grass on the rooftop!”
I am often plagues by worries that wear me down, lay furrows on my back like the cords of a whip. These worries are the enemy, lurking in my mind, depriving me of peace, depriving me of blessings God wants to bestow. As I reflected on the psalm, I was reminded, this too shall pass. The worries of the day are but for a moment, like grass growing on a roof top. Evil may prevail for a while in this world, but ultimately good overcomes evil.
And so God sustains me through times of trouble and worry.
What about you? Does the image of grass growing on a bald head speak to you? Have you had an experience of God blowing away your worries, keeping you safe through times of trial? I would love to hear from you.
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