“Come, Follow Me" – August 2022
Jehudo Epstein (1870-1945), Dying Job, 1901, oil on canvas, 55 1/2 x 97 1/2 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by the Bertin Family Foundation, 2008.
Job, in physical and emotional agony, is depicted here surrounded by Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu, whose ornately dyed garb contrasts sharply with Job’s simple white covering. Job’s companions all avert their eyes from his anguish even as they cruelly and wrongly speculate that their friend must have done something to deserve his suffering.
As we encounter those who suffer, we must take great care not to be like the friends of Job, but to properly mourn with and comfort them instead (Mosiah 18:9). What can we do to be good friends to those in pain?
Gerald Curtis Delano (1890-1972), Canyon De Chelly, no Date, oil on board, 20 x 32 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, gift of John H. and Jean S. Groberg, 2021.
Of all the metaphors used to describe the Lord in the Old Testament, perhaps one of the most enduring comes from Psalm 23, which Christ himself alludes to in John 10. In this recent acquisition, we see a Native American shepherd watching over a small flock near a calm, canyon stream. Though bright, potentially uninviting colors like orange and brown dominate the canvas, emphasizing the extremity of the desert environment, the scene exudes tranquility, safety, and serenity; the shepherd is here, and all is well.
What are your favorite analogies for the divine?
James Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836-1902), Michel Simonidy (1870-1933), Praying in the Temple, c. 1896-1904, gouache on board, 10 4/5 x 5 3/8 in, The Jewish Museum, New York. Image provided by the Jewish Museum, New York. Gift of the Heirs of Jacob Schiff. On display in the exhibition Prophets, Priests, and Queens: James Tissot’s Men and Women of the Old Testament.
Many of the Psalms act as both song and prayer, yearnings of jubilation or desperation artfully woven into words that continue to inspire thousands of years later. One personal favorite is Psalm 61, which reads in part “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed… For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever.” As seen in this Tissot watercolor, prayer is often the intersection of vulnerability and strength, giving us the chance to become one with a higher power even as we feel most fragile.
Which songs, psalms, or hymns feel most like prayer to you?
Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975), But as a Shadow that Fleeteth Away, no date, gouache and watercolor, 10 5/16 x 6 1/2 inches. Brigham Young University Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by Joyce and George Hill, 2018.
In Psalm 144, David offers an incredulous question to which he gives no answer: “Lord, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him[?]… Man is like to vanity: his days are as a shadow that passeth away.” Thomas Hart Benton based the title of this macabre watercolor – featuring a cracked human skull in the foreground and a ruined tower in the background – on this passage. Perhaps Benton intended it as a memento mori, a reminder of our own mortality. Yet the scriptures indicate that God is mindful of man in spite of our transience and weakness.
What gives you certainty that God is mindful of you personally?