March 24: Psalm 55


March 24: Psalm 55

Prayer for deliverance

Common meter double 86.86 D             Kingsfold, p. 60
Langloffan, p. 69

Give ear to this my prayer, O God, nor hide Thee from my cry.

Give answer, for I cannot rest but must complain and sigh,

Because I hear the voice of foes, because the wicked press;

For they in anger bear a grudge and on me bring distress.

Deep anguish is within my heart; death’s terrors o’er me roll.

Great trembling, fearfulness, and dread have overwhelmed my soul.

I cried, “O that I, like a dove, had wings to fly away.

Then would I flee and try to find a restful place to stay.

“Lo, I would wander far and lodge in some lone desert waste;

From stormy wind and tempest high I would escape in haste.”

O swallow up their tongues, O Lord; confuse them and divide;

For in the city I’ve seen strife and violence abide

For day and night upon her walls the city they surround,

While mischief and iniquity inside of her is found.

A realm of vast destruction thrives within her very heart,

And from her streets oppression, fraud, and graft do not depart.

It was no foe reproaching me, for that I could endure;

It was no hater rising up, or I could hide secure;

But it was thou, a man, a friend, my colleague all along;

We shared sweet fellowship and walked to God’s house in the throng.

Let death o’ertake them, to the pit alive let them depart;

For wickedness is in their house and lives within their heart.

I’ll call on God; the Lord will save; I will complain and sigh

At ev’ning, morning, and at noon, and He will hear my cry.

He will redeem my soul in love that I in peace may be

From all the war against me waged, for many strive with me.

Yes, God will hear and answer them; He sits enthroned of old;

For them there is no change of heart; no fear of God they hold.

He raised his hands against the ones who were at peace with him.

The covenant which he had sworn he broke at his own whim.

Though smooth as butter was his speech, within his heart was war;

Though soft as oil the words he spoke, a naked sword they bore.

Cast thou thy burden on the Lord, and He shall thee sustain;

Yes, He makes sure that still unmoved the righteous shall remain.

But Thou, O God, wilt bring them down the pit of woe to see.

False killers live not half their days. But I will trust in Thee.

When the risen Lord interpreted the Holy Scriptures to His first disciples, He explained to them how “all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning me… Thus it is written and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day” (Luke 24:44-46). It should come as no surprise, therefore, that the praying of the psalms will bring us back repeatedly to considerations of the mystery of the Cross and of those deep sufferings by which the Lamb of God took away the sins of the world. And of all the things that the Lord endured, one of the most grievous seems to have been that betrayal from within the intimacy of the apostolic band. Indeed, references to the Lord’s betrayal appear in several places among the psalms, including Psalm 41:9 and this Psalm, 55 (verses 12-14). We may see in this psalm, then, the Lord’s sentiments in the agony at Gethsemane, as He awaited the arrival of the treacherous friend who would betray Him with a kiss and hand Him over to His enemies. The Gospels suggest that this experience of treachery from a special friend was among the deepest sufferings sustained by the One who became like us in all things save sin. If the story of Judas is narrated in all four canonical Gospels, as well as Acts, the earliest Christians must have thought it singularly important. In each of the Gospels, moreover, Judas is identified as the betrayer precisely during the Last Supper-—that is to say, in a context recognized to be Eucharistic. When Paul writes to the church at Corinth, giving instructions for the celebration of the Eucharist, the recognized formula already contained a reference to the betrayal: “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread… (1 Cor. 11:23). Treachery, we are reminded, was already active at the first celebration of the Eucharist. (Reardon, p. 107-108)