To the Chief Musician. A Contemplation of the sons of Korah.
We've heard the old stories, O God, with our ears —
traditions our ancestors told;
the wonderful deeds you've performed through the years,
in days of our fathers of old.
You drove out the nations that pagans once held,
and planted our fathers therein;
uprooting the people from lands where they dwelled,
allowing our growth to begin.
It wasn't with sword that they vanquished the land,
nor by their own might was it done;
but rather by strength of your arm and right hand,
and light of your face was it won.
For you are forever my God and my King,
from whence Jacob's victories came.
Through you we repel what our enemies bring,
and trample our foes in your name.
I do not put trust in the strength of my bow,
nor sword to decide in my fate.
But you give us victory over our foe;
disgracing those showing us hate.
In God we give glory and boast all day long;
forever we'll thank you in praise and in song.
You've tossed us aside and you've made us disgraced;
you no longer lead us to war.
You've made us retreat from the foes that we faced,
who robbed us like never before.
You've given us up to be butchered like sheep;
we're scattered throughout foreign lands.
You've sold us for nothing for others to keep;
no profit enriching your hands.
You've made us the taunt of the neighborhood folk;
their scorn and derision have spread.
You've made us a byword — a national joke!
They're laughing and shaking their head.
Disgrace and dishonor are constantly here,
I can't show my face for my shame;
because of the sound of their scorn in my ear,
because of the sight of the same.
Though all of this happened, you've not been forgot;
your covenant's not been betrayed.
Our hearts have not turned from you, whom we have sought;
our feet, from your path, have not strayed.
And yet you'd have crushed us in wastelands abroad,
with jackals in darkness and haze.
If we have forgotten the name of our God
or prayed to false gods with hands raised,
would God not have surely discovered this wrong,
since he knows the secrets we keep?
And yet for your sake we are killed all day long;
we're doomed to be slaughtered like sheep.
Oh, why do you sleep, LORD? Wake up and arise!
Will you be forever obtuse?
And why are you hiding your face from our eyes?
Ignoring our pain and abuse?
Collapsing, our soul is brought down to the dirt;
we cleave to the ground on our face.
Rise up! Come, and help us! Redeem us, we hurt,
because of your love and your grace.
For the director of music. A maskil of the Sons of Korah.
As the hart pants for water and streams that are flowing,
it's you, God, my heart would embrace.
O my soul thirsts for God, who is living, all-knowing.
God, when can I come see your face?
I am feeding on tears, night and day, that I'm bawling;
they taunt, Where's your God? all day long.
My heart's broken and heavy as I am recalling
the crowds at your house, full of song.
O my soul, why despair with such grievous emotion?
And why are you restless in me?
I will hope, wait on God with pure, utter devotion
and praise for salvations to be.
O my God, I'm discouraged, but I will remember —
yes, I will remember you still!
From the source of the Jordan to Hermon's high splendor,
yes, even from Mizar's small hill.
As the deep calls to deep — raging waters are driven
by billows and waves of despair.
For by day has the LORD's loving-kindness been given;
by night, comes his song as a prayer.
I will say to my Rock, Why do you, God, forget me?
Why let me, God, wander in grief?
Like the crushing of bones, my foes taunt and beset me
by saying, Where's your God's relief?
O my soul, why so downcast? What's caused your vexations?
And why so uneasy in me?
Because I shall yet praise him in hope of salvations;
my God and my Savior is he.
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
How blest is the one who is kind to the poor!
Jehovah will save him in his time of woe.
The LORD will protect him and keep him secure;
on earth he will prosper and all men will know.
The LORD will not let him fall to the impure;
nor will he succumb to the will of his foe.
The LORD will sustain him when he's sick in bed,
restore him to healthiness he never knew.
Be gracious to me, LORD, and heal me, I pled,
for I, once again, have transgressed against you.
With evil and malice my enemies said,
how soon will he die and his name perish, too?
The wicked will visit and act as my friend,
yet speak with me falsely and gather each word;
the first thing he does when he goes 'round the bend,
is tell everyone everything he has heard.
They whisper their hatred of me — in the end,
devising their worst plans of harm, they conferred:
A fatal disease has him lying in bed;
he'll never be able to leave his front door.
And even my close friends with whom I've shared bread,
have turned and betrayed me like those I abhor.
O LORD, give me grace, raise me up in your stead,
that I may repay them with justice once more.
By this do I know I am favored these days:
my enemies are not victorious men.
Preserving my life for my virtuous ways,
I'm placed in your presence for time without end.
The LORD, God of Israel, all blessings and praise
forever and ever! Amen and Amen.
I've known about the Psalms being broken into five different books for most of my life, when I turned a few of the Psalms into my version of poetry as a kid. But, never did I know, until this week, that the final verse (or so) of the last Psalm in each book was a doxology. And, in the case of Psalm 150, the entire chapter of six verses was a doxology.
Praise the LORD, the God of Israel,
who lives from everlasting to everlasting.
Amen and amen!
Psalm 41:13 (final verse of Book 1)
Praise the LORD God, the God of Israel,
who alone does such wonderful things.
Praise his glorious name forever!
Let the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Amen and amen!
(This ends the prayers of David son of Jesse.)
Psalm 72:18-20 (final verses of Book 2)
Praise the LORD forever!
Amen and amen!
Psalm 89:52 (final verse of Book 3)
Praise the LORD, the God of Israel,
who lives from everlasting to everlasting!
Let all the people say, “Amen!”
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 106:48 (final verses of Book 4)
Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heaven!
Praise him for his mighty works;
praise his unequaled greatness!
Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn;
praise him with the lyre and harp!
Praise him with the tambourine and dancing;
praise him with strings and flutes!
Praise him with a clash of cymbals;
praise him with loud clanging cymbals.
Let everything that breathes sing praises to the LORD!
Praise the LORD!
Psalm 150 (final verses of Book 5)
A Psalm of David.
Oppose those who oppose me;
fight those who choose to fight.
Take up your shield and buckler;
arise and aid my plight.
Lift up your spear and javelin
against those who pursue;
And, let me hear your whisper,
I've come to ransom you.
Bring shame and great dishonor
to those who'd take my soul;
confound those who would harm me
and turn them from their goal.
May they be chaff, wind-driven
by angels you've assigned;
their way be slick and darkened,
as angels chase behind.
Without just cause or reason,
they lay traps I can't see;
without one provocation,
they dig deep pits for me.
May sudden ruination
befall them unawares;
let them become entangled
and trapped by their own snares.
Allow them to be swallowed
by their own holes — destroyed!
My soul, in your salvation,
will then be overjoyed.
My bones cry out, Who's like you;
who gives the poor relief?
Who else protects the helpless
and needy from the thief?
by witnesses are brought,
bombarding me with questions
of things which I know not.
My good repaid with evil;
I'm sickened with despair.
And, yet, when they were ailing,
my sackcloth did I wear.
Afflicted by my fasting;
none heard my stomach groan.
I prayed for them in public,
and pled for them alone.
I grieved as for my brother,
and paced as for a friend;
I mourned as for my mother,
and wept for days on end.
But, now that I have stumbled,
they gather to rejoice.
I'm slandered — even strangers
malign me with their voice.
Like godless, profane jesters
who entertain at feasts,
they constantly abuse me
and gnash me with their teeth.
How long will you stand idle?
How long will you hold back?
My life is in the clutches
of lions who attack.
Among the great assembly,
my thanks will I proclaim;
among the many people,
I'll ever praise your name.
Don't let my foes gloat over
my downfall and defeat;
those hating without reason —
who wink in their deceit.
Their words are never peaceful;
they plot to stir up strife
against the meek and timid
who live the quiet life.
They gape with mouths wide open:
Aha! At last we see!
You've seen, LORD, don't be silent;
do not abandon me.
Awaken, and defend me!
My God and LORD — my fate!
Judge me, LORD, with your justice.
Don't let them celebrate.
Don't let them say in triumph,
At last we have his soul!
Don't let them say, Let's eat him,
and swallow him up whole.
Let those who seek my downfall,
who denigrate my name,
who gloat in all my troubles —
may they be clothed in shame.
Let those who shout with gladness
when my name's been restored —
let them say to you always,
Exalted be the LORD,
who loves to bless his servant
with welfare and with peace.
Then I'll proclaim your justice;
your praises will not cease.
I finished writing Psalm 1 on 8/22/2020, Psalm 2 on 8/25, Psalm 3 on 8/26. This is not to brag — but rather to illustrate how utterly consumed I was. It was an all-day, every day affair. Running lines thru my head on the car ride to and from work, while at work — all the time. And it was exhausting. Psalm 32 was completed on 11/5, Psalm 33 on 11/6, and Psalm 34 on 11/9. Midway thru Psalm 35, I just stopped. I hit a wall and completely stopped writing.
I eked out a Christmas poem by the end of that year and managed an Easter poem as well — but I was not motivated to get back into the Psalms. Finally, a few weeks ago, I reread through the thirty-four Psalms that I had written a few times and eased back into Psalm 35. But it still took a few weeks to get it done and it was a tough road.