He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts up the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.
The pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and on them he has set the world. (1 Samuel 2:8)
In Rembrandt’s depiction of the Presentation, the aged Simeon is worshiping God in the Temple as the child Jesus is placed into his praying hands.
Simeon is one of the “pillars of the earth,” a devout person who can say with the Psalmist that:
The Lord grants his loving-kindness in the daytime;
in the night season his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life. (Psalm 42:10)
Into his outstretched arms, onto this pillar of the earth, Mary and Joseph set the world.
Just as Simeon is no mere old man, the child Jesus is no mere boy. The Word made flesh, without whom nothing was made that was made, rests in the praying arms of a strong tower, if we but had the eyes to see it.
What child do you know who is more than just a child, who represents the hopes and fears of a family?
What older person have you met whose strength, whose faithful wisdom, is hidden from view?
The Psalmist asks the question we might ask in our blindness, and then answers the way Simeon, a pillar of the earth, might answer.
Why are you so full of heaviness, O my soul,
and why are you so disquieted within me?
Put your trust in God;
for I will yet give thanks to him,
who is the help of my countenance, and my God. (Psalm 43:5-6)