Psalm 34: Response
Shaunesse’ Ariella Jacobs
Myself reflecting over my great-grandmother’s life.
These statements are dedicated to my great-grandmother, Mrs. Lucille J. Yearling, who was the matriarch of my family. She left this world a better place and bettered every person around her. She will forever by my greatest role-model because in all things she did, she loved well. Psalm 34 was recited by one of the deacons from my church at her funeral as words of encouragement to our family and an ode to the life that she lived. Because of that recitation, this has always been one of my favorite psalms, and I find it no more than fitting to use it for my personal psalm.
- Of David, when he feigned madness in the presence of Abimelech, who turned him out, and left him.
Of Shaunesse’, after hearing this psalm referenced during a church member’s personal remarks at her great-grandmother’s funeral July 11, 2009.
- I bless the Lord at all times; praise of Him is ever in my mouth.
Ninety years of life and she is gone…but You blessed me with seventeen years in her presence. She was a God-fearing, Christ-driven woman who taught me how to be the woman that I am today. I praise You for blessing me with her life. I praise You for being “I am that I am.” I praise You for loving me even when I don’t love You or myself well.
- I glory in the Lord; let the lowly hear it and rejoice.
It’s so difficult to imagine my life without my great-granny, but I insist on finding glory in You. I insist on seeing Your glory in my mourning and sadness. I hope that my boasting and refuge in You will empower my family to do the same. We have suffered a tragic loss with the death of Lucy, but we will always have You and Your abundant love.
- Exalt the Lord with me; let us extol His name together.
Even at my lowest point of sadness, I can’t help but offer up praises to You because You never cease to find a way to let Your light pour into my life. You never cease to find a way to brighten my worst days by showering me with grace and mercy. You send me wonderful memories of times that I’ve shared with her over the past seventeen years. I will exalt You with everyone around me because You’ve blessed me with a family that knows how to look toward eternity and not every day.
- I turned to the Lord, and He answered me; He saved me from all my terrors. 6. Men look to Him and are radiant; let their faces not be downcast.
I asked You to release her from the pain of the cancer. I asked You to give us the strength to bear her loss. I turned to You in the midst of my never-ending flow of tears and asked You to dry them for me. I lay awake worrying about the future of our family, turning to You for someone to fill her place. You answered me on all of these things and saved me from the terrors of my own thoughts and despair. You rescued me from the pain of my loss and wrapped Your loving arms of protection and comfort around me. You’ve proven Yourself all of my life, and there’s no reason for me to doubt You ever. My face will not be downcast because You lift me up every time I fall.
- Here was a lowly man who called, and the Lord listened, and delivered him from all his troubles.
July 6, 2009 at 1:52 am. Lucille Jenkins Yearling was pronounced dead three weeks shy of her ninetieth birthday. She fought a good fight. She finished her course. She kept her faith. But she left me behind, crying myself to sleep because I would never have her presence with me again. I would never have the comfort of her words and stories in person. I could never walk next door and sit with her for hours flipping through photo albums. I could no longer walk down every aisle multiple times in the grocery store with her. I would never be able to hear her laugh and find comfort in repeating her stories with her. But even in my grief, You heard the song of sorrow in my heart and delivered me from my troubles. You gave me vivid memories for ten thousand lifetimes. You have allowed her to meet me in my dreams and find solace in all the things she taught me. You gave me a heart as big as hers. You delivered me from my troubles.
- The angel of the Lord camps around those who fear Him and rescues them. 9. Taste and see how good the Lord is; happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!
She lived a life that was pleasing to You, and You rewarded her with longevity and health. She taught me to live me life in a pleasing manner to You. You kept Your right hand of protection over her life. Danger tempted her, but You kept her in right paths even in the valley of deepest darkness. I have come to find my protection in You. Your hand of favor rests on my life as it did hers. She found fulfillment in Your love and Your word. She tasted of Your goodness and shared it with the world around her. She taught me to find fulfillment in You. Even in her darkest days she found happiness in taking refuge in You. I have come to know that same happiness in Your refuge.
- Fear the Lord, you His consecrated ones, for those who fear Him lack nothing. 11. Lions have been reduced to starvation, but those who turn to the Lord shall not lack any good.
She only received a sixth grade education, but was one of the wealthiest people I knew. She had an abundance of love, joy, happiness, and peace. She extended these things to her family, and taught us how to fear You. She lived by the precept to “Do the right thing and the Lord will bless you.” You blessed her tremendously. We probably only received our blessings because we were an extension of her.
- Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you what it is to fear the Lord. 13. Who is the man who is eager for life, who desires years of good fortune? 14. Guard your tongue from evil, your lips from deceitful speech. 15. Shun evil and do good, seek amity and pursue it.
Because my great-grandmother taught me what it is to fear and love You, I can teach future generations what it is to fear You. I can teach others what it means to live a life that is pleasing and respectful to You. I can teach others what it means to find all that one needs in You. I can teach others to shun evil and do good…I learned to love You well because of her life, and I can only hope that You use my life to teach others to love You well.
- The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, His ears attentive to their cry. 17. The face of the Lord is set against evildoers, to erase their names from the earth. 18. They cry out, and the Lord hears, and saves them from all their troubles.
In Christianity, it’s always difficult to say that humans are righteous because Christ is always the ideal of righteousness. Other biblical men and women just came really close to that ideal. Yet, my great-grandmother was a righteous woman. And because she was righteous, You heard her cries and appeals. You saved her from the troubles that she faced.
- The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; those crushed in spirit He delivers. 20. Though the misfortunes of the righteous be many, the Lord will save him from them all, 21. Keeping all his bones intact, not one of them being broken.
You loved her through her faults and blessed her beyond measure. People tried bringing down her beautiful spirit, but You gave her a peace and joy that were unfathomable to human understanding…My heart is broken because I have to go to my mind’s eye to see her, but You renew my crushed spirit with her words of encouragement. I could never be the woman that she was, but I know You have great things prepared for me to be at least half the woman that she was.
- One misfortune is the deathblow of the wicked; the foes of the righteous shall be ruined. 23. The Lord redeems the life of His servants; all who take refuge in Him shall not be ruined.
All those people who rose up against her have received their deathblow. All those people who performed ill-fated actions against her have been ruined. They talked about her and tried ruining her family. They walked over her and misused her. But You left her standing after they fell. Her life has been redeemed through the blood of Your son and Your love. She is at peace with You. And her life has been a beautiful ode to You, encouraging all of us here to walk in her footsteps when following You. Christ is the mark, but if I could be a fraction of the mother, sister, wife, friend, daughter, confidant, mentor, student, teacher that she was, I am sure that my life will follow that of Christ’s.