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URC Daily Devotion Sunday November 21, 2021

Psalm 69

Save me, O God; I sink in floods,
plunged into misery.
My constant weeping brings no help;
LORD, hear and answer me.

How countless are my many foes
who hate without a cause.
O LORD, you know the wrong I do
against your holy laws.

May those who seek you not be put
to shame because of me.
LORD, for your sake I suffer scorn,
estranged from family.

My zeal for your most holy house
has brought reproach and jest.
Foes’ vulgar songs about my fate
leave me the more depressed.

In full assurance of your grace
I turn to you in prayer.
Deliver me from surging floods;
draw near, reach out in care.

Your steadfast mercy, LORD, is good;
hide not your face from me.
Hear my distress and answer, LORD;
make haste and set me free.

You know of my reproach and shame;
my heart despairs from grief.
I looked for pity, but I found
no comfort or relief.

They gave me bitter gall for food;
I was insulted, cursed.
They gave me vinegar to drink
to quench my burning thirst.

Let their own fullness be a snare;
blind them with pain and strife.
Add punishment to punishment,
and blot them out from life.

Though I am poor and sorrowful,
O LORD, attend my cry.
Let your salvation come to me,
and lift me up on high.

My song of praise to you, O God,
is more than sacrifice.
The LORD still hears the needy ones;
he heeds the prisoners’ cries.

Let heaven and earth and seas rejoice;
let all that move give praise.
All those that love God’s name shall live
in Zion all their days.

Marie J Post
1987 CRC Publications / Faith Alive Christian Resources

You can hear the tune here
https://hymnary.org/media/fetch/150384

Reflection

This paraphrase gathers up the Psalmist’s distress at his desperate circumstances. Like Josef K in Franz Kafka’s The Trial, he finds himself an innocent victim pitted against implacable accusers. Unlike Kafka’s hapless K however, the Psalmist knows where to turn, who to address, who will listen to his cries for help, and who will come to his aid.

The Psalmist’s initial lament is a litany of woe, punctuated by reflection on the wider effect his misery might have on others. This is not ‘a burden shared is a burden halved’. It is a concern that he might drag others down.

He admits he is not blameless before God, but asserts that his very passion for worshipping God has made him a target for ‘reproach and jest’, ‘vulgar songs about my fate’. The experience of Jeremiah and Job comes to mind.
This suffering servant of the Lord turns in prayer to the only one who can save him. That God can help him he is sure. He is determined, insistent that God hears him.  His pleas become ever more urgent as he recalls again the indignities heaped upon him ‘they gave me vinegar to drink to quench my burning thirst’. His anger asserts itself, wishing his torturers punishment in like measure, indeed blotting out. That would be justice indeed.

The Psalmist returns to plead with God ‘Let your salvation come to me, and lift me up on high’. Is it a change of mood that prompts the final two stanzas of praise to God, or is it the conviction that God has indeed heard him and will act?

Echoes of the psalm are found in all the gospels, especially John’s, and also in Romans. The life of faith involves coping with suffering. The Psalmist’s experience of suffering instructs our lives.

Prayer

Gracious God
when we face suffering
as each of us has to,
come close to us
and stay with us.
Let your Spirit comfort us
and lead us on
to a future that is secure in you.
Amen 

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