In today’s Office of Readings from the Liturgy of the Hours they used a selection of Psalm 44.
This befell us though we had not forgotten you;
thought we had not been false to your covenant,
though we had not withdrawn our hearts;
though our feet had not strayed from you path.
Yet you have crushed us in a place of sorrows
and covered us with the shadow of death
I have more difficulty saying and praying Psalms in this vein. Sorry but I have strayed from your path and been false to your covenant. I have a much easier time praying the following psalm usually recited for morning prayer on Fridays.
Have mercy on me, God in your kindness,
In your compassion blot out my offense.
O wash me more and more from my guilt
and cleanse me from my sin.
My offenses truly I know them;
my sin is always before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned;
what is evil in you sight I have done.
Now that is a Psalm I can sing easily with Psalmist and I don’t have to use any devices of the imaginations to understand what he was trying to get at. I can also get right in to character and say with the publican “Lord, have mercy on me a sinner. I grew up heavily involved in the theater and acted in many plays but I don’t have to resort to any of Stanislavsky’s school of acting to say those words.
I also have problems with some of the phrases like “Remember your assembly, Lord.” I don’t think an omnipresence God needs me as a walking Day Planner to remind him what to do. He doesn’t take a nap after a long day of holding the universe in existence and then use me as a snooze alarm when I say “Arise Lord and wake.” Now I know these are for our edification and to remind us of God, but I can take thinks too literally while I read them.
Reading the Liturgy of the Hours my favorite Psalm has become Psalm 63 and I can well understand why this is included in Week 1 Sunday Morning Prayer and is used for many feasts.
O God, you are my God, for you I long;
for you my soul is thirsting.
My body pines for you
like a dry weary land without water.
So I gaze on you in the sanctuary
to see your strength and your glory.
For your love is better than life,
my lips will speak your praise.
So I will bless you all my life,
in your name I will lift up my hands,
My soul shall be filled as with a banquet,
my mouth shall praise you with joy.
On my bed I remember you.
On you I muse through the night
for you have been my help;
in the shadow of you wings I rejoice.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand holds me fast.
This Psalm is extremely powerful for me. As an atheist I was like an evaporated sponge totally devoid of water and shrunken and closed in on itself. The line “My body pines for you like a dry weary land without water” describes my conversion. During Eucharistic Adoration I often think of this line “So I gaze on you in the sanctuary to see your strength and your glory.” And the last segment “My soul clings to you; your right hand holds me fast” will give me much to think on for the rest of my life.
God’s wings…you missed that one. Like God is Big Bird. I like its use in Night Prayer, I fear nothing, resting under the shelter of your wings. I have a very nesty down featherbed, duvet, pillows, and U shaped body pillow, so I really do feel like I’m resting under God’s wings. Nice poetry to drift to sleep on.