21 April 2022

Praying with the Psalms in Easter:
21 April 2022 (Psalm 57)

‘I lie down among lions that greedily devour human prey’ (Psalm 57: 4) … a statuesque lion in Portmeirion (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

During this season of Easter, I have returned to my morning reflections on the Psalms, and in this Prayer Diary on my blog each morning I am reflecting in these ways:

1, Short reflections on a psalm or psalms;

2, reading the psalm or psalms;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

Psalm 57:

Psalm 57 is the second in a series of five psalms in this section of the Psalms that are referred to as Miktams. Miktam or Michtam (מִכְתָּם) is a Hebrew word of unknown meaning in the headings of Psalms 16 and 56-60 in the Hebrew Bible. These six psalms, and many others, are associated with King David, but this tradition is more likely to be sentimental than historical. They may have formed one of several smaller collections of psalms which preceded the present psalter and on which it was based.

Miktam corresponds to the Babylonian nakamu, lid, a metal cover for a vessel, but efforts to derive a meaning for the term in the psalms have not been convincing. In modern Hebrew, the word has come to mean epigram, and numerous collections of Hebrew epigrams have used that word in their titles.

In the slightly different numbering found in the Greek Septuagint (LXX) and the Latin Vulgate, this psalm is Psalm 56.

This psalm is attributed to King David, and is described as a Miktam of David, when he fled from the face of Saul, in the cave, recalling either the cave of Adullam (see I Samuel 22), or the cave in the wilderness of En-gedi, on the western shore of the Dead Sea (see I Samuel 24).

Psalm 57 consists of two parts:

1, Verses 1-6: David gives expression to the anxiety which he felt, imploring Divine assistance against Saul and his other enemies.

2, Verses 7-11: David proceeds in the confident expectation of deliverance, and stirs up his soul to give praise to God.

‘For your steadfast love is as high as the heavens; your faithfulness extends to the clouds’ (Psalm 57: 10) … clouds above the River Ouse on the borders of Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire, near Wolverton (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Psalm 57 (NRSVA):

To the leader: Do Not Destroy. Of David. A Miktam, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.

1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me,
for in you my soul takes refuge;
in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge,
until the destroying storms pass by.
2 I cry to God Most High,
to God who fulfils his purpose for me.
3 He will send from heaven and save me,
he will put to shame those who trample on me.
God will send forth his steadfast love and his faithfulness.

4 I lie down among lions
that greedily devour human prey;
their teeth are spears and arrows,
their tongues sharp swords.

5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens.
Let your glory be over all the earth.

6 They set a net for my steps;
my soul was bowed down.
They dug a pit in my path,
but they have fallen into it themselves.
7 My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast.
I will sing and make melody.
8 Awake, my soul!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn.
9 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
10 For your steadfast love is as high as the heavens;
your faithfulness extends to the clouds.

11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens.
Let your glory be over all the earth.

Today’s Prayer:

The theme in this week’s prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is ‘From Death to Resurrection,’ and was introduced on Sunday by the Revd Dr Rachel Mash, Coordinator of the Environmental Network of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa. The USPG Prayer Diary this morning (21 April 2022, Saint Anselm of Canterbury) invites us to pray:

Let us give thanks for the life of St Anselm of Canterbury. May we pray for the Archbishop of Canterbury and Primates across the Anglican Communion.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

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