Psalm 26 – Baseball Cards

How are baseball cards like the Psalms? That’s a question I never thought I’d ask! My brother and I collected baseball cards growing up – we loved baseball cards. During our childhood, we accumulated more than 20,000 of them. But we collected baseball cards very differently than most. Some sought and bought the best and most valuable cards. They would then organize them neatly in a pre-arranged way taking great care not to produce even the slightest mark of imperfection. And while we desired to get valuable cards, we were much more interested in the experience of baseball cards. The anticipation and surprise of opening a new pack and then the imagination of how to arrange them. We used them for indoor baseball games. We used them to create batting lineups for our daily trips to the empty lot next to our house. We even used them to decorate our bedrooms. The result is a collection of baseball cards defined by the bends and creases collectors work so hard to avoid – but man – if those creases could talk…

I know you’ve already put this together with how it relates to the Psalms, but in case there are gaps to fill…

In reading Psalm 26, I had an interesting realization. That realization was that I read the Psalm differently depending on how I’m feeling that day. In short, it does what good poetry does – it makes you simultaneously satisfied in your soul and deeply frustrated. It makes me feel the way I did when a baseball card was accidentally creased irreparably – satisfied with the playing and frustrated by the damage. The range of my emotional responses to Psalm 26 lines up like this: 1) Repulsion (because this Psalm can read like a man groveling to God to vindicate me by seeing how holy I am and how wicked they are), 2) Admiration (at seeing an author in close connection with God pouring out his heart), and 3) Fighting Elitism (as I recognize in me a desire to be elevated above other people). There are surely more, but hopefully this helps to illustrate what God is unearthing in me.

What I find in myself is the tendency to treat the Psalms like a stuffy baseball card collector. I identify the category that this Psalm fits into, neatly arrange it with the others and never open it. This type of arranging satisfies my image, but can never satisfy my soul. When we pull out the Psalms to wrestle with the emotions they produce in us, there’s bound to be frayed corners and deep creases. My hope is that frayed corners and deep creases tell the story of pain, joy, delight and ultimately, intimacy, just like a baseball card.

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