The Old Man Simeon

I was inspired to write this Christmas poem from the passage in Luke 2:25-32, and by Michael Card's song, "Now That I've Held Him In My Arms." Simeon, an aged man, probably in his nineties, very godly and filled with the Holy Spirit, was promised that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. This poem is my imagination of the life of this man as he waited for the fulfillment of this promise.    

The road down from the old man’s house
Was a mass of baked earth,
Bearing the footprints of many years,
An accumulation of decade’s pilgrimages.
Then, the old man’s legs could support his weight
And his steps were firmer and the walk easier to navigate
The distance was never covered with any pain,
Neither were the steep hills climbed with any strain.

Through miles and miles of wheat farms,
The road runs south from Ephraim, and curves to the right,
Climbing into a sharp ascent that led to the temple.
Every Sabbath, for many years,
The old man ascended that hill,
To feed his hope upon the only standing monument,
Of the presence and promises of Yahweh:
The magnificent temple that stood at the heart of the city of Jerusalem.

Now with a humped back,
And weakening knees,
A constant reminder that he was no longer young,
The weekly pilgrimage to the temple left his body in pain,
As each step became a laboured effort.
That filled his lungs with discomfort.

But the voice he heard 25 years earlier still echoed in his mind,
“Simeon, Simeon, your eyes will not close in death,
Until they have seen the Lord’s Christ!”
Yes, those are the words he had heard.
Dawn and dusk have come and gone,
Further weakening his already deteriorating body,
But not once dimming his hope,
That one day, Israel will receive her consolation;
That one day, Israel will live again,
And that God shall reveal Himself to the Gentiles.

Under the shadows cast by the cedar trees,
Spread around his house,  
He sat on his chair, his hands upon his aching knees,
And prayed that dusk and dawn
Would hasten the coming of that longed-for day.
Though he could hardly walk now,
Not a single frown ever crossed his brow.
His lips always muttered a prayer,
“One more time O, Lord, One more time,
Let these weakened legs become young again,
That they might walk yonder and see the light and glory of Israel.”

The people around always gazed upon the old man with wonder,
His fascination with prophecy made him their unwelcome preacher,
Their hearts, never at all warmed by his words,
But remained cold and numb.
“Simeon,” they said. “Do you still hold on to your dream?
Do you believe the sun’s rays shall again upon Israel beam?
And will you live to see the day our God will visit us?”
The old man closed his weakening eyes as if he dosed,
And looked upon them with pity,
And with a tremour in his voice, he measured his answer,
In the mingling of His pain and pleasure.
“The bright rays of light and hope,” he said, “shall not fade.”
“Yahweh will not, Yahweh cannot His promises forget.” 

It’s been half a year since he last went to the temple,
His heart now aching,
That he could not join the faithful ones,
The devout ones in whom the Spirit of God dwelt,
Those who by, the altar, daily knelt,
And believed all the promises of Yahweh.
Again, that silent prayer touched his lips:
“One more time O, Lord, One more time,
Let these weakened legs become young again,
That they might walk yonder and see the light and glory of Israel.
And when the months stretch into years
And decades gather up the tears,
Lord, let me see your glory.”

That night, the old man went to bed with a smile on his face,
His heart bursting inside with God’s grace,
Hard as he tried, he could not sleep.
The love that flooded his soul was deep.
Soon, the sun’s warm rays diffused in where he lay,
And, he got out up and knelt down to pray.
The orange glow of the rising sun,
Sent a flood of light into the room,
And sprayed a molten orange-hued flow on the eastern horizon.
The old man stepped out, bubbling with a joy never before felt,
He watched the rising sun, and felt the thrill of what he beheld,
He scanned the near deserted road to Jerusalem,
And the grass blades in the fields that seemed to dance with abandon.                         

He leaned against the wooden beam
And watched a dream
Unfold before his weakened eyes,
He raised his hands to heaven and smiled,
Amazed that 25 years had not broken the
Power and hope in the promise he received.
Now, there was a growing urge,
A discernible voice that was prompting him to move,
And to step out in faith, and God’s promise to prove,
“Would this be the day, O Lord, would this be the day?”
He wondered.

He felt the mighty arm
Of God lift him into the light
Of Truth, and all his fears put to flight.
He got up, his heart certain that this was the day,
And that God was showing him the way
To the consolation of Israel,
The wondrous infant who would reverse Adam’s curse,
And bring healing in its place,

The feeble and weak legs became young again,
And with a stride firm and sure,
He climbed the steep hill to Jerusalem again,
Strengthened by the power of faith,
Borne along on the wings of hope.
When he stepped into the temple,
There was an unusual sense of the presence of God.
And then he saw them in the morning sunshine,
A couple walking in, carrying a baby
All at once, he knew, the glory of Israel had come.
Sacred infant, all divine,
In whose life, the world shall rejoice.

He walked over to the young couple,
Took the baby in his arms
And burst forth in praise to God:
“Now that I've held Him in my arms
My life can now come to an end,
Lord, let Your servant now depart in peace
Because I've seen Your salvation
A Light of the Gentiles
And the glory of His people Israel.”

He had never felt more peaceful,
And never had life been more meaningful.

Lord, nothing prepares us more for death than an encounter, by faith with the Lord Jesus Christ. Let someone come face to face with Jesus Christ today.


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