The text of our responsorial Pslam this coming Snuday is taken from the Bible’s longest psalm, psalm 118 (119).
Previously we have noted how certain psalms are acrostics – alphabetical psalms with each fresh line beginning the next of the 22 letters of the Hebrew Alphabet.
Psalm 118 (119) takes this to a new level. Here each letter gets 8 lines. Consequently it is a long psalm!
And as you will recognise even from the extracts below – the sections of the psalms from the Lectionary verses have been taken.
Seeing these verses in their context fleshes out the broader emotional journey of the psalm but also, maybe, helps us to marvel at the Lectionary compiler’s ability to precis scripture!
Perhaps we should let neither of these things distract us from the principal thrust of the verses used in the Lectionary – the quality of our relationship with God and his words to us…
57 I have said, “O Lord, my portion
is to obey your words.”
58 With all my heart I implore your favor;
as with your promise, have mercy.
59 I have pondered my ways,
and turned my steps to your decrees.
60 I made haste; I did not delay
to obey your commands.
61 Though the nets of the wicked ensnare me,
your law I did not forget.
62 At midnight I will rise and thank you
for your just decrees.
63 I am a friend of all who revere you,
who keep your precepts.
64 O Lord, your merciful love fills the earth.
Teach me your statutes.
65 O Lord, you have been good to your servant,
according to your word.
66 Teach me good judgment and knowledge,
for I trust in your commands.
67 Before I was humbled, I strayed,
but now I keep your word.
68 You are good, and you do what is good;
teach me your statutes.
69 The arrogant smear me with lies;
with all my heart I keep your precepts.
70 Their heart is dense like fat,
but your law is my delight.
71 It was good for me to be humbled,
that I might learn your statutes.
72 The law from your mouth means more to me
than large quantities of silver and gold.
73 It was your hands that made me and shaped me;
grant me insight to learn your commands.
74 Those who revere you see me and rejoice,
for I trust in your word.
75 O Lord, I know that your decrees are right;
though I am humbled, you are just.
76 Let your merciful love console me
by your promise to your servant.
77 Show me compassion, that I may live,
for your law is my delight.
78 Let the arrogant be shamed who deflect me with lies;
as for me, I will ponder your precepts.
79 Let those who fear you turn to me,
that they may know your decrees.
80 Let my heart be blameless in your statutes,
that I may not be put to shame.
121 I have done what is just and right;
do not leave me to my foes.
122 Guarantee the well-being of your servant;
let not the proud oppress me.
123 My eyes grow weary as I watch for your salvation,
and for your promise of justice.
124 Treat your servant with merciful love,
and teach me your statutes.
125 I am your servant; give me understanding:
then I shall know your decrees.
126 It is time for the Lord to act,
for your law has been broken.
127 That is why I love your commands
more than finest gold,
128 why I rule my life by your precepts,
and hate false ways.
129 Your decrees are wonderful indeed;
therefore my soul obeys them.
130 The unfolding of your word gives light,
and understanding to the simple.
131 I have opened my mouth and I sigh,
for I yearn for your commands.
132 Turn and have mercy on me,
as is your rule for those who love your name.
133 Let my steps be guided by your promise;
may evil never rule me.
134 Redeem me from man’s oppression,
and I will keep your precepts.
135 Let your face shine forth on your servant,
and teach me your decrees.
136 My eyes shed streams of tears,
because of those who have not kept your law.
~ Translation of Psalm: From The Revised Grail Psalms: A Liturgical Psalter. (c) 2010.~ Commentary: (c) 2020, Allen Morris
~ Photo: Stained glass. Holy Trinity church, Bradford on Avon (c) 2019, Allen Morris.