Last May, Harrison Okene, the Nigerian cook aboard the tug Jacson-4, was rescued from 30 meters below the Atlantic after spending almost three days in an air pocket aboard the ship which had overturned and capsized. His 11 fellow crew mates perished.
I won’t repeat all the details here, but you can read the whole story here in the Telegraph and you can watch a few minutes of the dramatic rescue video below.
According to reports, Mr. Okene survived in the air pocket with only a bottle of Coke, his wits, and by praying some Psalms that his wife had texted him the night before the tug sank. Verses from Psalms 54 through 92.
I don’t know exactly which verses Mr. Okene read, or rather prayed, but maybe one of them was:
Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. Psalm 69:1-2 (Vg. 68)
As you might suspect, many other news outlets, including the Huffington Post and the BBC, also reported on this story, but made no mention of the Psalms. No surprise there.
I’ve always been fascinated by science, especially astronomy, so when I encountered Psalm 19 in my morning prayer recently, it struck home:
The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. Psalm 19:1-4 (Vg. 18)
Our ancestors got a hint of the glory of God by looking up at the cosmos with nothing but their naked eyes, but these days we have sophisticated satellites and telescopes. Did you know that even the Vatican has its own observatory and astronomers? Yup. In fact, the first Vatican observatory was founded around 1774! The current Vatican Observatory is headquartered at at the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, although its research center, the Vatican Observatory Research Group, is hosted by the Steward Observatory at the University of Arizona in Tucson Arizona.
Here’s a short clip of Pope Francis visiting the Vatican Observatory in July of 2013: