Skipping, 70, 64

A matter of balance

The Skip and jump series (see this earlier post of Jan 2016) started off to fill the gaps — the psalms we do not hear. Psalm 70 only qualifies if you do not observe daily worship for Holy Week (which is South Woden).

Those who do will hear (hopefully sing) this one on Wednesday thereof. (You will also hear 36 (Monday) and 71 (Tuesday) of that week; however, since those have already been the subject of posts when they came up elsewhere in the cycle, I make no further comment on those ‘gaps’.)

Nefertiti and Akhenaten, 1340 BCE
Feeling a little worse for wear? (Nefertiti and Akhenaten, 1340 BCE)

Psalm 70

The theme of the week is decidedly dark, foretelling the dolorous days leading up to Good Friday and Psalm 22 (‘abandonment’). In Ps.70, the psalmist’s distressed attention evolves:

  • from lament against ‘those who seek my life’ — let them be dismayed
  • toward those who seek divine deliverance — let them rejoice
  • to the humble singer-songwriter him- or herself — ‘you are my helper and deliverer’

The cryptic verse prize goes to verse 3:

Let those who say to me “Aha!” turn back in frustration.

What scene springs to your mind? The whole song is an almost exact repeat of Psalm 40:13-17. In 70, the song begins and ends with an urgent plea for divine action: while in 40, the psalmist ‘waited patiently for the Lord.’ Urgency, patience. Moods swing in our hearts: divine love is the same “yesterday, today and forever” (Heb.13:8).

Psalm 64

This one qualifies as a ‘skip’ because it never comes up in the lectionary. (It follows hot on the heels of another lacuna you can’t jump over, one that omits all nine psalms from 53 to 61 inclusive. Much material resides in those songs: but we must leave them for another day.)

Accusation or anunciationAs for Psalm 64 (a song attributed to David), it is quite short and does not seem to have attracted many composers, as there are comparatively few settings.

However, the poem will ring true for anyone who has been falsely accused, or even just been pained by loose and unfavourable gossip. It reminds me of a plot outline that a novelist might take and embellish:

Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked … They hold fast to their evil course; they plan how they might hide their snares … “Who will see us? We have thought out the perfect plot”; for the human heart and mind are a mystery. (vv. 2-6)

The goodies will win, of course; ‘…all who see them will shake their heads.’ (v.8)

On another note, PFAS includes a prayer for refugees (64C) that causes us to pause and review the text from quite a different angle.

Remember this one? That was back in 1979. The commemorative postage stamp was a meagre 20c then!

And for what it’s worth, this is Post No 150, the same number as we have psalms in the psalter — albeit not of the same quality!

<– Remember this? Back then, in 1979 before email, the commemorative ordinary postage stamp was a meagre 20c!

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