New Feathers; Fresh Wings
(Bless the LORD...)
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
Who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. —Psalm 103:4-5
When we get to where we're going, we'll be met by Compassion and Love, two commodities that are in short supply here on earth.
In the meantime, while we wait, God is able to "satisfy us with good." There's an odd Hebrew word underlying the English translation of this line: Literally, the poet says that God is able to satisfy our "ornamentation" with good.
Most grammarians think he's referring to our so-called golden years, relying on an old Semitic root that refers to old age.
Old age an ornament?
Think of it this way. If I were to run a Boston Marathon I would probably get a T-shirt with an inscription on it that says, "I ran the Boston marathon." I'd wear it proudly, as one should wear old age, because both marathons are achievements worth celebrating.
Here I am eighty-four years old, a spectacular accomplishment if I do say so myself. Most people are dead at my age, as Yogi Berra famously said. But God in His mercy has allowed me to beat the odds: 4 score+4.
But I don't want to just live a long time, like an old tree, and then topple over. I want to live and grow forever! Here I'm told that my youth can be renewed like the eagle's.
Eagles lose their flight feathers each summer—which is why we're asked to avoid certain areas along the Boise River lest we disturb them. But then, having grown fresh feathers, the eagles emerge as good as new, full of vim and vigor, thereby becoming a symbol of ever-renewing youth. God's presence is the sanctuary where you and I shed our old lives and put on the new.
It occurs to me I should make a sign for my study, the place where I meet God most mornings: "Please don't disturb me. I'm molting."