Thoughts on Psalm 59, Day 19 Lent 2013

I was unable to finish reading all Psalms in today's Lenten reading, 51-100. I read about 20 and listened to the other 30 at work. One thing I like about reading so many, as opposed to meditating on one at a time, is the reinforcement of themes through multiple songs inspired by multiple situations and occasions over centuries. Some of the Psalms have headings describing the various situations the writers were inspired by. Most of the Psalms are attributed to David, but one is attributed to his son Solomon, and many more are a attributed to Asaph, who may not have been a contemporary of David. Today's reading covered all these authors. Psalm 59 jumped out to me today because it expresses David's fears, frustrations, curses, hopes, and worship. It's all in the extreme.

In David's case, it's written in the context of his house put under watch by King Saul, who wanted to kill him. In my case, I worry about getting laid off. Not quite the same extreme, yet I find comfort inhabiting David's extremes. My situation feels extreme to me. Like David, I believe I'm innocent. Like David, I want God to defend me, partly because the situation is beyond my power. I need a rescuer. Like I need to remember who I have put my trust in. I need to review all that He's done, refresh my memory of his resume. Perspective changes everything.

Like yesterday, I enjoy reading The Message , a paraphrase by Eugene Peterson, because he captures the rawness of these songs in modern English.

Psalm 59
A David Psalm, When Saul Set a Watch on David’s House in Order to Kill Him

59 1-2 My God! Rescue me from my enemies,
    defend me from these mutineers.
Rescue me from their dirty tricks,
    save me from their hit men.
3-4 Desperadoes have ganged up on me,
    they’re hiding in ambush for me.
I did nothing to deserve this, God,
    crossed no one, wronged no one.
All the same, they’re after me,
    determined to get me.
4-5 Wake up and see for yourself! You’re God,
    God-of-Angel-Armies, Israel’s God!
Get on the job and take care of these pagans,
    don’t be soft on these hard cases.
6-7 They return when the sun goes down,
    They howl like coyotes, ringing the city.
    Then suddenly they’re all at the gate,
    Snarling invective, drawn daggers in their teeth.
    They think they’ll never get caught.
8-10 But you, God, break out laughing;
    you treat the godless nations like jokes.
Strong God, I’m watching you do it,
    I can always count on you.
God in dependable love shows up on time,
    shows me my enemies in ruin.
11-13 Don’t make quick work of them, God,
    lest my people forget.
Bring them down in slow motion,
    take them apart piece by piece.
Let all their mean-mouthed arrogance
    catch up with them,
Catch them out and bring them down
    —every muttered curse
    —every barefaced lie.
Finish them off in fine style!
    Finish them off for good!
Then all the world will see
    that God rules well in Jacob,
    everywhere that God’s in charge.
14-15 They return when the sun goes down,
    They howl like coyotes, ringing the city.
    They scavenge for bones,
    And bite the hand that feeds them.
16-17 And me? I’m singing your prowess,
    shouting at cockcrow your largesse,
For you’ve been a safe place for me,
    a good place to hide.
Strong God, I’m watching you do it,
    I can always count on you—
    God, my dependable love.
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