Psalm 70: Pleased to help

‘Be pleased to deliver me; (1) I am poor and needy, you are my helper and deliverer’ (5)

In Ps.70, the psalmist’s distressed attention evolves from lament against ‘those who seek my life’ toward those who seek divine deliverance, and finally to the humble singer-songwriter him- or herself.

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 different circumstances and life cycles: divine love is the same “yesterday, today and forever”.

Psalm 70 was being sung in Heidelberg under the baton of Lorenz Lemlin (see below) in the early 16th century.
Opening bars of Psalm 70 by German Renaissance composer Lorenz Lemlin (1495 – 1549) from Heidelberg

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