21 May 2022

Praying with the Psalms in Easter:
21 May 2022 (Psalm 87)

Singers and dancers alike say, ‘All my springs are in you’ (Psalm 87: 7) … an improvised interpretation of syrtaki in an olive grove in Crete days after the death of Mikis Theodorakis (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2021)

Patrick Comerford

Before this day begins, I am taking some time this morning to continue my reflections in this season of Easter, including my morning reflections drawing on the Psalms.

In my blog, I am reflecting each morning in this Prayer Diary 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 87:

Psalm 87 is found in Book III in the Book of Psalms, which includes Psalms 73 to 89. In the slightly different numbering scheme in the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate, this is psalm is numbered as Psalm 86.

Psalm 87 is one in a group of psalms at the end of Book III within the 150 psalms, from Psalm 84 to Psalm 89. These psalms attempt to provide hope to the exilic Israelite community. But, despite their celebration of the historic traditions of the Jewish people, they remind the reader that these elements no longer provide the hope they once did.

Four psalms of this group – Psalms 84, 85, 87 and 88 – are attributed to the Korahites, who are described as the doorkeepers of the tabernacle in the Book of Chronicles.

Psalm 87 describes Jerusalem as the centre of the world or the ‘mother of nations,’ where God placed the Torah.

This psalm is classified as one of the ‘Songs of Zion,’ looking to the future Jerusalem as the centre of universal worship and listing some of the surrounding nations – from which Jewish proselytes have come to the festivals – or as a ‘reference to Jews who come from different countries in the dispersion.’

Rahab in verse 4 may refer to the primaeval monster quelled by YHWH (‘You crushed Rahab like a carcass; you scattered your enemies with your mighty arm’, Psalm 89: 10), perhaps representing Egypt.

The ‘springs’ (verse 7) may symbolise divine blessing, placing Zion as the source of the streams of Paradise.

Verse 3 inspired John Newton to write the hymn ‘Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken’ (1779), later sung with music from Haydn’s Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser (1797).

‘On the holy mount stands the city he founded’ (Psalm 87: 1) … the city of Jerusalem depicted in Jerusalem restaurant in Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2022)

Psalm 87 (NRSVA):

Of the Korahites. A Psalm. A Song.

1 On the holy mount stands the city he founded;
2 the Lord loves the gates of Zion
more than all the dwellings of Jacob.
3 Glorious things are spoken of you,
O city of God.

4 Among those who know me I mention Rahab and Babylon;
Philistia too, and Tyre, with Ethiopia—
‘This one was born there,’ they say.

5 And of Zion it shall be said,
‘This one and that one were born in it’;
for the Most High himself will establish it.
6 The Lord records, as he registers the peoples,
‘This one was born there.’

7 Singers and dancers alike say,
‘All my springs are in you.’

Today’s Prayer:

The theme in this week’s prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) has been ‘Advocacy in Brazil.’

The USPG Prayer Diary concludes this theme this morning (21 May 2022), inviting us to pray:

We pray for the Brazilian Chamber of Federal Deputies. May Brazil’s political representatives make wise decisions which challenge injustice and support marginalised communities.

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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