Psalm 83 (Psalms on the Trail)

Psalm 83:18

“Let them know that you, whose name is I AM—

you alone are the Most High over all the earth.” Psalm 83:18

Reflection:  There was a shift for me today while praying. Usually I think of my morning practice of contemplative, silent prayer as sitting in God’s loving presence.  I’m here and God is there, and we are sitting silently (when my thoughts calm down) in each other’s presence.  It is a centering time.  Today was different.  Recalling the teaching of Richard Rohr, I noticed the way this psalm verse infers  God’s breathy name,  “I Am Who I Am.”  Yahweh.  A name for God given to Moses that the Jewish people deem too holy to pronounce.   (Perhaps the psalmist didn’t completely write the whole name because it is too holy.)  A name with no hard vowels to stop the breathing.  A name our lungs take in with no effort, no tongue or teeth or throat blocking its way.  “Yahweh” is breathed in and out freely.  Anyway, I was reminded by the one “whose name is I AM” that God wasn’t “over there” on the other side of the room listening to me.  Instead God’s breath was being drawn into me, permeates me—and permeates all of us (as I now switch to the more inclusive plural).

God resides deep in our spiritual hearts if we pay attention.  God alone is the Most High who has set up “space” in the center of our being, who is doing something new in that prayerful space.  We have little control over this and almost no awareness of what God does when moving into our lungs in the way God moved over the waters at creation.  What is God creating in us this morning?  What is God shaping, growing, breathing into us as we wait quietly, hopefully, trusting in the unseen and unfelt Presence.  I know, it is strange and difficult to talk about contemplative prayer…some would say unorthodox.  So if I am not making any sense, don’t worry about it;  just pray in a way that fits you best.  But no matter how we understand our prayer life or relationship with God,  God alone is still the I AM (who I AM) and the Most High over all of us…and that is a great mystery we can never fully grasp.  No wonder there are so many different ways to express our prayer.


1. Take this verse with you and ponder its meaning for you throughout the day.  What do you notice?  What do you wonder?  Try sitting quietly and breathing in whatever name for God you choose:  Yahweh, Holy One, Father, Jesus, Spirit, Beloved….

2. Or read all of Psalm 83 to discover how this verse fits into this psalm.

3. Or comment with a photo of your own that is a window of this verse’s meaning for you.

Tomorrow’s psalm  will be Psalm 84:5.

Starting January 1, 2016, for 150 days I am posting a daily psalm verse with a photo that is a visual meditation on the text for me.  Each day a verse from the next psalm is chosen until all 150 psalms have been featured.   To participate you may subscribe to my blog at or “friend” me on Facebook and watch for the daily links to blog posts.  Disclaimer:  I am not a photographer and most of the photos are from a cell phone or small camera while hiking the Appalachian Trail or the C&O Canal/Great Allegheny Passage Trail.