A tottering fence

A tottering fence

How long will you assault me? Would all of you throw me down—this leaning wall, this tottering fence? (Psalm 62:3)

Do you ever feel a bit broken down and about to fall?

One of the things I love about the Bible in general, and the psalms in particular, is the honesty about life. There are some great passages that are very down-to-earth about our struggles and how we feel, and they often use wonderful pictures to describe those struggles.

Psalm 62 is a great example. It’s a psalm of David and like many psalms it opens with a call to praise God who is our salvation. But like many of David’s psalms it seems to be written in a time of great difficulty and distress. David is honest about the assaults he feels from those around him.

One of the most delightful things about this psalm is how David describes himself: he sees himself as a leaning wall or a tottering fence. It’s powerful picture of a structure that is supposed to be standing strong but is now barely standing at all. A wall that is only upright because it is leaning on something else. A fence that is tottering. ‘Tottering’ is a great word, and we should use it more often! It’s really fun to say, but it’s not very much fun to experience. Tottering gives the idea of something that is just on the edge of collapse. It is about to fall at any moment and it’s frankly astonishing that is hasn’t fallen already.

If you think of David the mighty warrior or great king, you might be surprised to hear him talk about tottering. But David was human like you and I, and we have all experience times of tottering in one way or another. Perhaps you are tottering now. You feel at the edge of collapse and ready to fall at any moment.

Tottering is part of the human experience, from kings to ordinary folk, from the mighty to the meekest of us. The big question is what we do when we start tottering.

David’s answer is to turn to God when tottering. “Yes, my soul,” says David to himself, “find rest in God” (v5). God is our hope, our salvation and our refuge says the psalm. He is also our rock and our fortress.

The reason a leaning wall does not fall is because it leans on something stronger. In this psalm, David calls himself, and us, to do the same. When we find ourselves tottering to lean against God who is stable and strong. When we slip, to grab hold of God who is solid and unmoving. When we lean, to lean on the God who is immovable.

So David, the tottering fence, can say of God: “he is my fortress, I will never be shaken” (v2). Again he says, “he is my fortress, I will not be shaken” (v6). Humanly speaking David is shaken to the core, wobbling and tottering and unable to stand. But because he leads on God, David is able to say “I will not be shaken.” Will we join him in saying that today? When we are tottering, and when we are not, lean on the God is our rock and refuge, the one on whom we can depend.

Photo by David Boca on Unsplash