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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Today’s Reading | Psalm 13

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
     How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul,
     and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!
     Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
and my enemy will say, “I have prevailed”;
     my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.

But I trusted in your steadfast love;
     my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
     because he has dealt bountifully with me. (NRSV)


I have on my bookshelf a slim volume which consists of some twenty-five psalms that have been translated, paraphrased, and set to different styles of music for use in worship, including folk tunes, antiphonal settings, and chants.

The title of the collection is one I find helpful in thinking about the place of psalms in our worship. It is entitled Psalms of Patience, Protest, and Praise.

Psalm 13 strikes me as one psalm that combines all three of these responses to God in one poem. I believe that this is one reason why the psalms continue to play such an important role in our worship and devotional life. (Remember that we read or sing a psalm nearly every Sunday at Fourth Church.)

Our relationship with God is not static, not simplistic, not a linear progression. It is complex, paradoxical, and dynamic. In any given situation, we may feel more than one particular emotion, and these emotions may indeed seem contradictory. This is precisely what we encounter in our psalm for today.

Here is a poet whose faith is such that the poem is part of our holy scripture, yet the emotions expressed are at the same time protest--“How long, O Lord?”; patience--“my heart shall rejoice”; and praise--“I will sing to the Lord.”


Thanks be to God who hears our prayers, even when they don’t seem to make sense. Amen.

Written by Calum I. MacLeod, Executive Associate Pastor and Head of Staff

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