What is your superpower?
I’m pretty sure that we’ve all been asked this question. After all, it’s pretty common—whether you’re in school, talking with your friends about the latest Marvel movie, or participating in an icebreaker exercise at work, you’ve probably had to think about what superpower you’d pick.
Invisibility. Teleportation. Strength. Shapeshifting. Time travel. Or maybe your superpower is something else I haven’t listed. or maybe you’re actually Spiderman—I wouldn’t know.
And I think the thing that we love about superheroes is that they’re at their best when they stop hiding from whatever superpower they have, and start using it.
That’s always the best part of the movie, right?? When Thor or Wonderwoman or Dr. Strange suddenly realize that, oh, I know how to fix this. That their superpowers will actually make a difference.
So I want to suggest that the writer of today’s Psalm definitely had a superpower. And the key to this superpower is in verse nine, where they say that “Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him…”
“Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him…”
Surely. Surely is a weird word, right? It’s an adverb, which, means that it’s modifying the verb “to be”. The Psalmist is sure that God’s salvation IS. The Psalmist is sure that God’s salvation EXISTS.
Lexico describes surely as a word that is “used to emphasize the speaker’s firm belief that what they are saying is true and… their surprise that there is any doubt of this.” It means that you really believe what you’re saying is true.
Being sure is a superpower, and the Psalmist definitely has it. In the earlier part of Psalm 85 that we didn’t read today, they begin by reciting what God has done… to God!
“Lord, you were favorable to your land”
“You pardoned all their sin”
“Restore us again, O God of our salvation”
“Will you not revive us again?”
“Show us your steadfast love, and grant us your salvation”
God, you were awesome…. and you should do that again.
The Psalmist is so sure about who God is, and what God does, that they have the tenacity, the bravery, to demand that God make things good again.
“Surely his salvation is at hand for those who fear him”
“Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet”
“The Lord will give what is good”
The Psalmist’s superpower is being sure about who God is, is knowing the TRUTH about God. That God has been good to us in the past, and that God CAN and WILL be good to us now, and in the future.
That’s a lot of confidence to have in God. So yes, it is a superpower, but I think that it’s a superpower that we can claim today.
When we have a really bad day in school, or a really bad week at work.
When our faith is more questions than answers.
When all we want to do is ask, with the Psalmist, “Will you be angry with us forever?” Will things ever go right?
Perhaps we can stop, and remember our superpower: maybe we don’t know for sure what will happen in the future, but we know the truth about who God has been for us in the past.
We can name the deeds of God, from creation to crucifixion to right now, and say that yes, Lord, “you were favorable to your land”. “SURELY his salvation is at hand”, and that SURELY “The Lord will give what is good”.
So next time you need a superpower, remember this: that you too know the truth about God.
That God is good, and “the Lord will give what is good” to his people, now and in the age to come. May this truth set us free to be doers and witnesses of Christ’s work in the world.
Preached on 2/20/20, on Psalm 85, for the Thursday Night Live Service at Virginia Theological Seminary