Reading: Psalm 27: 1, 4-9 (translation by Robert Alter)
The LORD is my light and my rescue
Whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s stronghold.
Of whom should I be afraid?
One thing do I ask of the LORD,
it is this that I seek—
that I dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to behold the LORD’s sweetness
and to gaze on His palace.
For He hides me in His shelter
on the day of evil.
He conceals me in the recess of His tent,
on a rock He raises me up.
And now my head rises
over my enemies around me:
Let me offer in His tent
sacrifices with joyous shouts.
Let me sing and hymn to the LORD.
Hear, O LORD, my voice when I call,
and grant me grace and answer me.
Of You, my heart said:
“Seek My face.”
Your face, LORD, I do seek.
Do not hide Your face from me,
do not turn Your servant away in wrath.
You are my help.
Abandon me not, nor forsake me,
O God of my rescue.
I am currently studying to become a marriage and family therapist and as part of my studies I have been exploring a personality assessment called the enneagram (pronounced ANY-a-gram). The enneagram (which means nine-sided figure) is a way of viewing the different personalities within the human family. There are nine main personality types, and everyone (according to the theory) falls into one of these nine types. (You can learn more about it here: https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/ )
Most personality assessments (like the Myers-Briggs or StrengthsFinder or DiSC) take a neutral stance on personality, saying that personality is neither good nor bad but simply a reality of life. What’s interesting about the enneagram (and what sets it apart from other personality assessments) is that it starts by examining your faults. Sounds fun right? The enneagram is focused around nine “deadly sins” or “vices”. It starts with the assumption that much of one’s personality is developed around faulty coping mechanisms. For instance, Ones on the enneagram struggle with anger. Threes struggle with deceit. Eights struggle with lust.
I recently learned that I am a six on the enneagram scale. This means that my big fault, my main coping mechanism, is fear (or more accurately anxiety). Sixes are preoccupied with safety and security and they’ll do whatever they must to feel safe. They often find themselves drifting off into daydreams about worst case scenarios. They are, in a sense, the chief advocates of Murphy’s Law: everything that can go wrong will go wrong.
But lest you think the enneagram is nothing but a big downer, it’s central purpose is not simply to point out your faults. It is to show you how you can grow into a healthier, more whole human being. For every vice there is a virtue, and the Enneagram shows us our vices so that we might better pursue our virtues. For sixes like me, our vice is fear and our virtue is faith.
And that’s why today’s psalm means so much to me. I was captivated by these words: “[God] conceals me in the recess of [God’s] tent.” At first these words jumped out to me because my central preoccupation is safety. I’m constantly seeking safety and comfort, avoiding discomfort and danger. These words about God seem like the perfect antidote to my fear.
And that’s because they are! If God conceals me in the recesses of God’s tent (which is a metaphorical way of saying that God protects me) then what could I possibly have to fear? The antidote to my anxieties is to remember that my safety lies ultimately in God. And if I am safe in God, then what in this world could I possibly have to fear?
Ever-present God, we thank you for your promise of protection. Settle our fears. Calm our anxieties. Remind us that you conceal us in the recesses of your tent. Remind us that we have nothing to fear.