Sunday, 24 April 2022

Praying with the Psalms in Easter:
24 April 2022 (Psalm 60)

‘Upon Edom I will toss my sandal’ (Psalm 60: 8) … sandals in a shoe shop in Rethymnon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Today is the Second Sunday of Easter (24 April), and in the Calendar of the Orthodox Church today is Easter Day.

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 60:

Psalm 60 is the fifth 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, Psalm 60 is counted as Psalm 59.

Psalm 60 is addressed ‘To the leader: according to The Lily of the Covenant,’ referring to the title of a song, presumably identifying the intended melody, mentioned only here and in Psalm 80, and described as ‘A Miktam of David … when he struggled with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zobah, and when Joab on his return killed twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.’
The heading text in the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) and other translations refers to Aram-Zobah, whereas in the King James Version the reference is to Zobah.

Biblical Edomites include King Herod, who was an Idumean, and Esau is regarded as the ancestor of the Idumeans.

The ‘Valley of Salt’ is also referred to as the ‘Valley of Saltpits.’

Many commentators consider the phrase ‘Moab is my wash-basin’ or ‘Moab is my washbowl’ in verse 8 to refer to the Dead Sea in the vicinity of Moab. Actor Stephen Fry uses the phrase Moab Is My Washpot for the title of his autobiography covering his early years.

Many commentators also read ‘on Edom I hurl my shoe’ or ‘Upon Edom I will toss my sandal’ (verse 8) as a reference to Edom becoming a humble servant, such as a servant who would clean a master’s sandals.

Psalm 108 also uses this imagery of tossing a sandal upon Edom. There was a custom in Biblical lands, when transferring a possession, of throwing down a shoe on the ground as a symbol of occupancy.

In Jewish liturgy, the psalm is recited on Shushan Purim, and verse 7 is part of the closing paragraph of the Amidah.

‘You have caused the land to quake; you have torn it open; repair the cracks in it’ (Psalm 60: 2) … today is the Second Sunday of Easter (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Psalm 60 (NRSVA):

To the leader: according to The Lily of the Covenant. A Miktam of David; for instruction; when he struggled with Aram-naharaim and with Aram-zobah, and when Joab on his return killed twelve thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.

1 O God, you have rejected us, broken our defences;
you have been angry; now restore us!
2 You have caused the land to quake; you have torn it open;
repair the cracks in it, for it is tottering.
3 You have made your people suffer hard things;
you have given us wine to drink that made us reel.

4 You have set up a banner for those who fear you,
to rally to it out of bowshot.
Selah 5 Give victory with your right hand, and answer us,
so that those whom you love may be rescued.

6 God has promised in his sanctuary:
‘With exultation I will divide up Shechem,
and portion out the Vale of Succoth.
7 Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine;
Ephraim is my helmet;
Judah is my sceptre.
8 Moab is my wash-basin;
on Edom I hurl my shoe;
over Philistia I shout in triumph.’

9 Who will bring me to the fortified city?
Who will lead me to Edom?
10 Have you not rejected us, O God?
You do not go out, O God, with our armies.
11 O grant us help against the foe,
for human help is worthless.
12 With God we shall do valiantly;
it is he who will tread down our foes.

Today’s Prayer:

The theme in this week’s prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) is ‘Logging in the Solomon Islands,’ and is introduced this morning by Brother Christopher John SSF, Minister General of the Society of Saint Francis:

‘Logging for export has been increasing in Solomon Islands since the 1980s and threatens the rich ecosystem of bush, river, lagoons and reefs.

‘Forests are damaged, as are rivers, drinking water supplies, gardens, and fishing and food gathering areas. Some overseas loggers commit sexual exploitation. Increased alcohol consumption further fuels gender-based violence. Logging takes people away from village life including church activities.

‘Last year came the chance for action. The Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights, a UN Human Rights Council programme, was to review the Solomons in 2021. We partnered with Franciscans International (our NGO at the UN), Dominican sisters and friars in the Solomons, and their NGO, Dominicans for Justice and Peace. We made a joint submission to the UN and lobbied diplomatic missions. A number of member states then included these issues as specific recommendations in their reports to the Solomons government.

‘In the end the Solomons accepted almost all the recommendations relating to logging issues.

‘This is a great achievement, but just a beginning. Implementation is the challenge! But we can be part of the solution, supporting monitoring and education, and keeping international eyes open to all that’s happening.’

The USPG Prayer Diary this morning (24 April 2022, Second Sunday of Easter, International Day of Multilateralism and Diplomacy for Peace) invites us to pray:

Holy Spirit,
help us to navigate the future of the Church.
May we follow God’s will
rather than our own wants.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

Inside the Greek Orthodox Church in Stony Stratford … today is Easter Day in the calendar of the Orthodox Church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

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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