Monday, September 26, 2011

Psalms of the Church

I go through phases, it seems, of appreciating the Psalms. I would say that I always appreciate them, in a sense, but there are particular times when I am really drawn in by a specific one, for its words, purpose or whatever it is offering at that time. Tonight, during the reading of the six psalms during the vigil, I heard Psalm 142 (septuagint) almost as if I had heard it for the first time in its entirety. The phrasing and words grabbed me and it transported me to a place with momentary clarity and peace. Here it is:

"Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear unto my supplication in Thy truth; hearken unto me in Thy righteousness.

And enter not into judgment with Thy servant; for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified.

For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath brought my life down to the ground.

He hath sat me in darkness, as those that have been long dead; and my spirit is faint within me, my heart within me is troubled.

I remembered the days of old, I meditated on all Thy works, I mused on the works of Thy hands.

I stretched forth my hands unto Thee; my soul thirsteth after Thee as a thirsty land.

Hear me speedily, O Lord; my spirit waxeth faint.

Turn not away Thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.

Cause me to hear Thy mercy in the morning, for in Thee do I hope.

Cause me to know, O Lord, the way wherein I should walk, for I lifted up my soul unto Thee.

Rescue me, O Lord, from mine enemies; have I fled unto Thee for refuge. Teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God.

Thy good Spirit shall lead me into the land of uprightness; quicken me, O Lord, for Thy name’s sake.

In Thy righteousness Thou shalt bring my soul out of trouble, and in Thy mercy Thou shalt destroy my enemies.

And Thou shalt destroy all them that afflict my soul, for I am Thy servant."

These Psalms are so very human and that is part of why I like them. They are so grounded in humanity, but focused on Divinity. They have managed to be a solid part of the Old Testament, but are extremely relevant to the New Testament as well. We use them in prayer, both at home and in services. They are Scripture, but they are so relatable that they offer comfort in all times of life; in triumph and despair.

The point of this post is that when I heard this psalm, I heard the person, the you and me, every one of us. The core of each of us, because who hasn't felt this way at some time, who hasn't thought these things, wholly, or in part? The psalms are a beautiful reflection of the plight of each of us and a testament to the Divinity and workings of God. I love them. Do you have a favorite? One of my favorites is this Psalm 27(26 septuagint):

"The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.

Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple.

For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.

And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in his tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the LORD.

Hear, O LORD, when I cry with my voice: have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.

Hide not thy face far from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.

When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up.

Teach me thy way, O LORD, and lead me in a plain path, because of mine enemies.

Deliver me not over unto the will of mine enemies: for false witnesses are risen up against me, and such as breathe out cruelty.

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD."