I Love You
I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer,
my God, my rock in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation… – Psalm 18:1-2 (NRSVUE)
This is one of those credit-where-credit is due, let-me-tell-you-the-story-of-what-God-has-done-for-me Psalms. Enemies threaten, mighty waters overwhelm, snares entwine. David is all but lost. Then through a raging storm, God comes hurling thunderbolts and fire from the back of a cherub steed. Cherubim were a very different thing back then than they are now, but if you want to imagine God riding a chubby, snarling baby into war, please don’t let me stop you. Anyway, the day is saved. Epithets pile up.
Compelling reading. To me, though, none of it’s as compelling or important as the first line, unique among all the Psalms, almost unique in the whole Bible. Before the mortal peril and the mighty Sky-God and the glorification, David says to God, simply:
I love you.
I imagine you love God, as do I. How often do you say it? Many of us say “I love you” all the time in other contexts. Some of you would never dream of ending a phone call or email or text exchange with certain people without saying it. Some of you can’t walk away from your cat without saying it, for goodness’ sake. How often do you say it to God, in so many words? I’m asking you because I don’t want to answer for myself.
Next time you pray, you could pile up petitions and thanksgivings and confessions and adoration and epithets like you usually do. That would be fine. But before you hang up, is there something else you want to say?
If the only prayer I ever prayed was “I love you,” that would suffice. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is Chaplain of the Protestant Cooperative Ministry at Cornell University. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.