14 July 2022

Praying with the Psalms in Ordinary Time:
14 July 2022 (Psalm 141)

‘Let my prayer be counted as incense before you’ (Psalm 141: 2) … in the vestry in Saint Bartholomew’s Church, Ballsbridge, Dublin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

In the Calendar of the Church, we are in Ordinary Time. The calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship today (14 July 2022) recalls John Keble, Tractarian and Poet (1866) with a lesser festival.

I have an appointment in Milton Keynes University Hospital later this morning. But, before today begins, I am taking some time this morning to continue my 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 141:

Psalm 141 is the fourth psalm in the final Davidic collection of psalms (Psalm 138 to Psalm 145) that are specifically attributed to David in their opening verses.

In the slightly different numbering system in the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate, this is Psalm 140. Its name in Latin is Dirigatur oratio mea.

This Psalm is a plea to God not only for protection from the psalmist’s enemies, and also from temptation to sin.

This psalm contains a prayer for deliverance from ‘from the trap that they have laid for me, and from the snares of evildoers’ (verse 9), and seeks God’s support to live a life without sin (‘Do not turn my heart to any evil,’ verse 4).

This could be read as the prayer of an ordinary worshipper. But there indications too that this a ‘king’s psalm,’ offered during a military campaign far away from Jerusalem, or in exile, for he cannot offer the sacrifices in the temple (see verse 2) and he laments over losses in battle (see in verse 7).

A wisdom teaching in verse 4, asking to be kept away from bad company, is similar to Psalm 1.

A phrase in verses 6-7 is translated ‘When they are given over to those who shall condemn them’ in the NRSV. But the translations vary, for example: ‘When their judges are overthrown in stony places …’ (KJV), or ‘thrown down from the cliffs’ (NIV). But the full saying is difficult to translate, and, at best, translators are offering a guess.

Verses 8-10 express a plea for help against persecutors in terms similar to words in Psalm 140.

Perhaps there are two sets of petitions in prayer (verses 5-7 and verses 8-10).

The King James version offers an archaic phrase: ‘Keep me from … the gins of the workers of iniquity’ (verse 9). The word used to translates מקשות in this verse is a form of ‘engines’ and is translated as ‘traps’ or ‘snares’ in many modern translations.

‘Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me, and the gins of the workers of iniquity’ (Psalm 141: 9, KJV) … a poster for gins from Whitechapel Distillers seen in a bar (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Psalm 141 (NRSVA):

A Psalm of David.

1 I call upon you, O Lord; come quickly to me;
give ear to my voice when I call to you.
2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.

3 Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord;
keep watch over the door of my lips.
4 Do not turn my heart to any evil,
to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with those who work iniquity;
do not let me eat of their delicacies.

5 Let the righteous strike me;
let the faithful correct me.
Never let the oil of the wicked anoint my head,
for my prayer is continually against their wicked deeds.
6 When they are given over to those who shall condemn them,
then they shall learn that my words were pleasant.
7 Like a rock that one breaks apart and shatters on the land,
so shall their bones be strewn at the mouth of Sheol.

8 But my eyes are turned towards you, O God, my Lord;
in you I seek refuge; do not leave me defenceless.
9 Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me,
and from the snares of evildoers.
10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
while I alone escape.

Today’s Prayer:

The theme in the prayer diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel) this week is ‘Partners in Mission.’ It was introduced on Sunday.

Thursday 14 July 2022:

The USPG Prayer Diary invites us to pray today in these words:

Let us pray for our partners across Bangladesh and India. May we learn from their thriving churches and walk alongside them in mission.

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

No comments: