O LORD my God, my refuge is in you; Deliver me from all those who pursue, Lest, lion-like, they tear ferociously, While there is no one to deliver me.
O LORD my God, if such a thing I planned, And if the guilt of sin is on my hand— If I have wronged the one at peace with me, Or without cause have robbed my enemy—
Then let my foe pursue relentlessly That he may vent his hateful spite on me, And let him trample me into the ground; So will my honour in the dust be found.
Arise, O LORD, in wrath against my foes, Against the rage of all who me oppose. Awake, my God, let justice now abound For all assembled nations gathered round.
Rule over all the nations from on high; Your justice to the peoples, LORD, apply. According to my righteousness judge me; Look, O Most High, on my integrity.
O God of righteousness, you are the one Who searches deep the heart and mind of man; Bring to an end the wicked’s violence And be the righteous one’s secure defence.
My shield and confidence is God Most High Who saves the upright when to him they cry. God is a judge who does what’s right and fair, And every day his wrath God will declare.
If it should be that God will not relent, He’ll fashion sword and deadly armament, And he will bend and string his mighty bow From which his fiery arrows forth will go.
The one who evil in his heart conceives Gives birth to lies and no reward receives. He digs a hole, he scoops it with his spade, Then falls into the very pit he made.
His scheming will recoil on him instead; His evil will descend upon his head. I’ll thank the LORD who acts in righteousness; I’ll praise the LORD Most High; his name I’ll bless.
This works well to the tune Slane which you can hear hereor to Eventide which you can hear hereBoth are recordings of congregations singing the Psalm.
I write this as I prepare to leave Manchester – my home for the last 20 years – to take up a new ministry in Glasgow. Leaving is bitter-sweet. There are many good memories of Manchester and many friends here who have been important parts of my journey over the years. Some of these friends are those who have fled to the UK to find sanctuary and many of these are Muslims who have found a freedom here than they would ever have found at home.
I write just a few days after the devastating bomb which killed and maimed children and adults leaving a pop concert. People around the world have been appalled and I have been amazed at the outpouring of grief, friendship and a sense of unity in the last week in Manchester. My Muslim friends are as devastated as my Christian and non-religious friends and the desire to do something to mark this tragedy has led to a plethora of vigils and a huge shrine in a square in the city centre where flowers have been left and prayers said. One of the most powerful images was of a Jewish woman praying together with a Muslim man at this makeshift shrine; something which should not be extraordinary at all has touched so many of us.
Our Psalm today – both suggested tunes for it work incredibly well – reminds us that in God we find our refuge. The first lines are especially pertinent as we think of those for whom, at the Manchester Arena, there was no one to deliver them from the evil that tore into them.
As the people of Manchester have processed this dreadful event we have found ourselves seeking to bridge divides, work across cultural and religious difference and show that hatred, violence and evil are never the last word. The “I love Manchester” signs going up everywhere serve as icons of the idea that love trumps hate. Even in our darkest hour God is to be found in the love rising up over the hate.
O God of righteousness, you are the one who searches deep the heart and mind of humanity; bring to an end the wicked’s violence and be the righteous one’s secure defence. Amen
The Rev’d Andy Braunston is a minister in the Synod of Scotland’s Southside Cluster and coordinator of the Daily Devotions Project.
(C) Psalmody and Praise Committee, Free Church of Scotland, 15 North Bank Street, Edinburgh, EH1 2LS.