15 March 2022

Praying with the Psalms in Lent:
15 March 2022 (Psalms 35)

‘With the angel of the Lord pursuing them’ (Psalm 35: 6) … the Congregation of All Angels in an icon by a nun from the Monastery of Saint Irene near Rethymnon (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Patrick Comerford

Before today begins, I am taking some time early this morning for prayer, reflection and reading.

During Lent this year, 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 35:

Psalm 35 is generally attributed to King David, although some commentators attribute it to the prophet Jeremiah. In the numbering in the Greek Septuagint and Latin Vulgate this psalm is Psalm 34.

The first prayer when the American First Continental Congress met in September 1774 was taken from Psalm 35:1.

In this psalm, relentless enemies are seeking the psalmist’s life. Their hostility is groundless, and its maliciousness is aggravated by their ingratitude. The psalmist appeals to God to do him justice and deliver him.

Each of these points is illustrated by the narrative of David’s persecution by Saul in I Samuel. However, the psalm is not directed against Saul himself, but against those who fomented his insane jealousy.

‘Take hold of shield and buckler’ (Psalm 35: 2) … the Star of David on a shield on a prebendal stall in Lichfield Cathedral (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Psalm 35 (NRSVA):

Of David.

1 Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me;
fight against those who fight against me!
2 Take hold of shield and buckler,
and rise up to help me!
3 Draw the spear and javelin
against my pursuers;
say to my soul,
‘I am your salvation.’

4 Let them be put to shame and dishonour
who seek after my life.
Let them be turned back and confounded
who devise evil against me.
5 Let them be like chaff before the wind,
with the angel of the Lord driving them on.
6 Let their way be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.

7 For without cause they hid their net for me;
without cause they dug a pit for my life.
8 Let ruin come on them unawares.
And let the net that they hid ensnare them;
let them fall in it – to their ruin.

9 Then my soul shall rejoice in the Lord,
exulting in his deliverance.
10 All my bones shall say,
‘O Lord, who is like you?
You deliver the weak
from those too strong for them,
the weak and needy from those who despoil them.’

11 Malicious witnesses rise up;
they ask me about things I do not know.
12 They repay me evil for good;
my soul is forlorn.
13 But as for me, when they were sick,
I wore sackcloth;
I afflicted myself with fasting.
I prayed with head bowed on my bosom,
14 as though I grieved for a friend or a brother;
I went about as one who laments for a mother,
bowed down and in mourning.

15 But at my stumbling they gathered in glee,
they gathered together against me;
ruffians whom I did not know
tore at me without ceasing;
16 they impiously mocked more and more,
gnashing at me with their teeth.

17 How long, O Lord, will you look on?
Rescue me from their ravages,
my life from the lions!
18 Then I will thank you in the great congregation;
in the mighty throng I will praise you.

19 Do not let my treacherous enemies rejoice over me,
or those who hate me without cause wink the eye.
20 For they do not speak peace,
but they conceive deceitful words
against those who are quiet in the land.
21 They open wide their mouths against me;
they say, ‘Aha, Aha,
our eyes have seen it.’

22 You have seen, O Lord; do not be silent!
O Lord, do not be far from me!
23 Wake up! Bestir yourself for my defence,
for my cause, my God and my Lord!
24 Vindicate me, O Lord, my God,
according to your righteousness,
and do not let them rejoice over me.
25 Do not let them say to themselves,
‘Aha, we have our heart’s desire.’
Do not let them say, ‘We have swallowed you up.’

26 Let all those who rejoice at my calamity
be put to shame and confusion;
let those who exalt themselves against me
be clothed with shame and dishonour.

27 Let those who desire my vindication
shout for joy and be glad,
and say evermore,
‘Great is the Lord,
who delights in the welfare of his servant.’
28 Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness
and of your praise all day long.

Today’s Prayer:

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary this morning (15 March 2022) invites us to pray:

We pray for Churches Together in Britain and Ireland and other ecumenical initiatives working across the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

‘Draw the spear and javelin’ (Psalm 35: 3) … the pikeman in the Bullring in Wexford (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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