“When I Consider How My Light Is Spent”
also known as “On His Blindness”

a sonnet by John Milton

When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide;
“Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?”
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
Either man’s work or His own gifts. Who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed,
And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

(this poem is in the public domain; I copied it from poets.org  http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/when-i-consider-how-my-light-spent)

 

–this background commentary on the poem from  http://www.cummingsstudyguides.net/Guides5/Blindness.html
John Milton’s eyesight began to fail in 1644. By 1652, he was totally blind. Oddly, he wrote his greatest works, Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, after he became blind. Many scholars rank Milton as second only to Shakespeare in poetic ability.

Love (III)
by George Herbert


Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back
                              Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
                             From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
                             If I lacked any thing.

 

A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?

 

Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.

poem is in the public domain
text taken from poets.org (http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/love-iii)
and (http://www.poetryoutloud.org/poem/173632)

 

and Ralph Vaughn-Williams set it to music! a bit operatic, but if you like Vaughn-Williams . . .

 

Praise is a sacrifice
Choosing the gracefulness of gratitude
Over the seeming gratification
Of griping and grousing
Choosing to receive in every package
The gifts a good God always gives

Praise accepts
Abundance beyond the want
And offers thanks as
An act of trust
In the affection of an Almighty sovereign

Praise is a gift
Freely given
Graciously acknowledged
By the One Who sees all
And recognizes it for what it is–
A sacrifice

That fills the life of the giver

With the fragrance
Of His presence.

From thirsty, parched soul
To bubbling fountain
Christ makes you the miracle

Jesus gives the order
Servants do what servants do
Water becomes wine

9-10-11

Psalm 139:6
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

vi
I admit, I am a bit overwhelmed
As I ponder
How completely
You care for me.
I can’t wrap my mind around the
Magnitude
Of these details:
I can’t even get past the fact that You
Care enough
To observe me so minutely,
To study me.

9-10-11

Psalm 139:5
Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.

v
The oddest part is this: You haven’t rifled
through my heart and moved on.
No, You’ve besieged me. Here I thought
I’d have to look for You, to chase You down,
And when I looked out my windows,
You had me completely surrounded.
You’d planned Your campaign,
You were here for the long haul–here to stay.
And I could feel You laying Your hand on me–
For what?
Just to show me Your closeness?
As a fatherly expression of affection?
In benediction? As investiture of power?
Or maybe so I wouldn’t be afraid of Your
Drastic measures to make me Yours.

9-10-11

Psalm 139:4
For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.

iv
You know me so well that You know
What I will say
Before I say it.
[When others do this, I sometimes find it
Disconcerting--should I be
Comforted when You do it?]
[Do You sit back with pleasure to hear
What You know I will say
And how I will say it?]

9-10-11

Psalm 139:3
Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

iii
Like diffused light on a cloud-covered day,
You are everywhere around me
Yet springing from no one spot.
You surround what I do
All day long, and at night
Your presence
Is as ubiquitous as the air I breathe.
Like a nurse who has worked with one doctor
For many years,
You are used to the way I do things.
You’re familiar with my
Mode of action–
And You’re comfortable with me.
[Actually, God, I'd like to be comfortable with You that way, too.]

9-10-11

Psalm 139:2
Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.

ii
You observe me–
As though I were the most important
Person in the world to You,
You are aware of where I am
And what I am doing:
Whether I am sitting down or standing up,
You know it.
And You can tell,
Like good friends can from across the room,
Exactly what I am thinking,
Nuance for nuance better than I know myself
Sometimes. Well, always.

 

9-10-11

Psalm 139:1
O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.

i
Lord God, You have searched me,
Digging deeply down as a miner digs into
His vein of precious metal or as a
Treasure-hunter digs down into his treasure-trove.
Because of this, You know me–
You’ve seen all there is to see.

This year in school, my students and I are memorizing Psalm 139 and Romans 6-8. In September, as we were studying through Psalm 139, the full meanings behind the Hebrew words struck me with such lovely force that I decided to try my hand at paraphrasing the psalm, attempting to communicate some of the full color that the words themselves express. By the time I’d made it through the first 6 verses, I’d found myself with two hand-written pages of something more poetic than prose but more prosy than even my typical poems are. I had to laugh at the way it takes me so many many words to communicate the full–wait, not even the full thought of what God expressed in 6 short and deceptively simple verses.

The month of February at my church is a month of reviewing verses that we have memorized over the years, so it is more than fitting (not that I need an excuse) to post this reflection on one of the passages that I partly memorized as a young girl, have now completely memorized, and have found comforting and astonishing at many and various times through my life.

Let me encourage you to read the psalm if you have not–and to read it again if you have–and to ponder with me God’s intimate knowledge and intricate creation of each individual person . . . of me . . . of you.

Psalm 139 (Blue Letter Bible)
p.s. If you click on the “C” beside each verse on BLB, it will bring up the verse with the Hebrew words for each phrase. Click on the numbers in the column marked “Strong’s” to go to a page that gives the meaning of and detailed information on the word itself.

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