Read | Psalm 97

The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad;

    let the distant shores rejoice.

Clouds and thick darkness surround him;

    righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.

Fire goes before him

    and consumes his foes on every side.

His lightning lights up the world;

    the earth sees and trembles.

The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,

    before the Lord of all the earth.

The heavens proclaim his righteousness,

    and all peoples see his glory.

All who worship images are put to shame,

    those who boast in idols—

    worship him, all you gods!

Zion hears and rejoices

    and the villages of Judah are glad

    because of your judgments, Lord.

For you, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth;

    you are exalted far above all gods.

Let those who love the Lord hate evil,

    for he guards the lives of his faithful ones

    and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

Light shines on the righteous

    and joy on the upright in heart.

Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous,

    and praise his holy name.

Respond | Joey Dearduff

The God of Israel to whom the psalmist sings is shrouded in clouds and thick darkness. The author of the book The Cloud of Unknowing (a theology book I encountered through one of my Episcopal professors during undergrad) describes the nature of this cloud and thick darkness: God is robed in mystery, covered by a symbolic cloud that captures God’s ultimate un-possessibility and un-knowability. In other words, God cannot be possessed, cannot be controlled, and cannot (other than in the ways of grace and love in which God reveals God’s self in the world) be known. It is not a storm cloud promising a torrent of wind a rain; it is not a darkness of deception or danger. Instead, the clouds of thick darkness that surround God are images of God’s unfathomable immensity, God’s inaccessibility. But, like the rain that is promised in the coming of a dark cloud, God comes to us despite and within that immensity to greet us, to nourish us, to be present with and within us.