15 July 2022

Praying with the Psalms in Ordinary Time:
15 July 2022 (Psalm 142)

‘Bring me out of prison, so that I may give thanks to your name’ (Psalm 142: 7) … the Prison Governor’s House in Nenagh, designed by the architect John Benjamin Keane (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 (15 July 2022) commemorates Saint Swithun, Bishop of Winchester, and Saint Bonaventure, friar, bishop and teacher of the faith. 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 142:

Psalm 142 is the fifth 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 141. This psalm often serves as a prayer in times of distress. Its opening words in Latin are: Voce mea ad Dominum clamavi.

Psalm 142 is labelled as a ‘maskil’ (psalm of enlightenment) or contemplation. In the Latin Vulgate, it is an oratio or prayer.

The text is presented as a prayer by David at the time when he was hiding from Saul in the Cave of Adullam, part of the story of David and Jonathan (see I Samuel 24). Describing this as a prayer when David was in the cave could mean this psalm was a prayer he composed while in the cave, or one he composed at a later date, putting into poetic form the substance of the prayer that he uttered while he was in the cave.

David says he calls out to God, pouring out his heart to him. He shares his pain with God when his spirit is weary from his troubles. God knows that David has chosen the path of righteousness for himself, but he can also see that David’s enemies have laid traps for him all along the way.

There is no one to assist David and no human means of escape. Yet David places his trust in God, with the result that his portion is among the living.

David asks God to heed his cry, for circumstances have brought him very low, indeed.

Militarily, Saul’s forces completely outnumber David, who is now trapped in a cave with Saul. His only way of getting out is with God’s help.

When he does get out, David will thank God and the righteous will share in his triumph.

‘The righteous will surround me, for you will deal bountifully with me’ (Psalm 142: 7) … the White-Robed Army of Martyrs on the walls of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Psalm 142 (NRSVA):

A Maskil of David. When he was in the cave. A Prayer.

1 With my voice I cry to the Lord;
with my voice I make supplication to the Lord.
2 I pour out my complaint before him;
I tell my trouble before him.
3 When my spirit is faint,
you know my way.

In the path where I walk
they have hidden a trap for me.
4 Look on my right hand and see—
there is no one who takes notice of me;
no refuge remains to me;
no one cares for me.

5 I cry to you, O Lord;
I say, ‘You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.’
6 Give heed to my cry,
for I am brought very low.

Save me from my persecutors,
for they are too strong for me.
7 Bring me out of prison,
so that I may give thanks to your name.
The righteous will surround me,
for you will deal bountifully with me.

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.

Friday 15 July 2022:

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

We pray for the Anglican Church of Tanzania and give thanks for the work they do to prevent the transmission of HIV/AIDS.

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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