18 March 2022
Praying with the Psalms in Lent:
18 March 2022 (Psalms 38)
Following Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations yesterday, today is an additional public holiday in Ireland this year. 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 38 is ‘A Psalm of David, for the memorial offering’ or ‘A psalm of David to bring to remembrance.’ The title ‘for the memorial offering’ or ‘to bring to remembrance’ also applies to Psalm 70.
In the slightly different numbering system in the Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate, this psalm becomes Psalm 37.
This is one of the seven Penitential Psalms. In the English King James Version. It begins: ‘O Lord, rebuke me not in thy wrath.’ In Latin, it is known as Domine, ne in furore tuo arguas me.
This psalm is possibly written late in King David’s life, and some commentators see it as a biography of sorts for David.
The psalm’s two principal topics are:
1, God’s displeasure at sin (verses 1-11);
2, the psalmist’s sufferings and prayers (verses 12-22).
The psalm opens with a prayer. King David felt as if he had been forgotten by God. The psalm then passes intermittently between complaint and hope.
Commentators have noted how the depth of misery into which the psalmist gradually plunges in his complaints, only to then to grasp suddenly at the arm of God’s mercy and omnipotence.
Psalm 38 (NRSVA):
A Psalm of David, for the memorial offering.
1 O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger,
or discipline me in your wrath.
2 For your arrows have sunk into me,
and your hand has come down on me.
3 There is no soundness in my flesh
because of your indignation;
there is no health in my bones
because of my sin.
4 For my iniquities have gone over my head;
they weigh like a burden too heavy for me.
5 My wounds grow foul and fester
because of my foolishness;
6 I am utterly bowed down and prostrate;
all day long I go around mourning.
7 For my loins are filled with burning,
and there is no soundness in my flesh.
8 I am utterly spent and crushed;
I groan because of the tumult of my heart.
9 O Lord, all my longing is known to you;
my sighing is not hidden from you.
10 My heart throbs, my strength fails me;
as for the light of my eyes – it also has gone from me.
11 My friends and companions stand aloof from my affliction,
and my neighbours stand far off.
12 Those who seek my life lay their snares;
those who seek to hurt me speak of ruin,
and meditate treachery all day long.
13 But I am like the deaf, I do not hear;
like the mute, who cannot speak.
14 Truly, I am like one who does not hear,
and in whose mouth is no retort.
15 But it is for you, O Lord, that I wait;
it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.
16 For I pray, ‘Only do not let them rejoice over me,
those who boast against me when my foot slips.’
17 For I am ready to fall,
and my pain is ever with me.
18 I confess my iniquity;
I am sorry for my sin.
19 Those who are my foes without cause are mighty,
and many are those who hate me wrongfully.
20 Those who render me evil for good
are my adversaries because I follow after good.
21 Do not forsake me, O Lord;
O my God, do not be far from me;
22 make haste to help me,
O Lord, my salvation.
The USPG Prayer Diary has a particular focus on Ireland and the Church of Ireland this week, and I introduced this theme in the prayer diary on Sunday (13 March 2022), with the heading ‘Crossing Borders’. The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary this morning (18 March 2022) invites us to pray:
Lord, may we remember that love has no boundaries. May we cross borders to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.
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