Save me, O God, because the mighty waters have come up to my neck on every side. I sink in miry depths without a foothold; I am engulfed beneath the deep floodtide.
My throat is parched; I’m weary from my shouting; my eyes fail, looking to my God for aid. For those who hate and loathe me without reason are more than all the hairs upon my head.
Without a cause my foes seek to destroy me; I have to pay back what I did not steal. But as for you, O God, you know my folly; my guiltiness from you I can’t conceal.
May those who hope in you, the LORD Almighty, not be disgraced on my account, O God; May those who seek your face, O God of Israel, not suffer shame because of me, O Lord.
For your sake, LORD, I must endure derision; my face is covered with contempt and shame. Even my brothers do not recognise me; to mother’s sons a stranger I became.
Because devotion to your house consumes me, those who insult you turn their taunts on me; And when I mourn with tears of grief and fasting, I must endure their scorn continually.
When I, in grief and mourning, put on sackcloth, the people laugh at me the whole day long. The elders at the city gate deride me; I am the subject of the drunkard’s song.
But, LORD, I pray in this your time of favour: in your great love deliver me, O God. Save me from sinking in the miry waters; deliver me from those who hate me, LORD.
This works well to the tune Lord of the Years which you can hear here.
I don’t think I have ever stood as close to the edge of despair, or felt as consumed by the hatred and taunts of others, as the Psalmist describes in today’s Psalm. Generally, I live a fairly comfortable life. I have a loving family, employment I enjoy, enough financial resources to live comfortably and am in reasonable health. Perhaps more importantly than these creature comforts, I am free to be myself, to express my opinions and beliefs and live my life as I choose without facing the risk of the derision, prejudice, discrimination and hatred of others being thrown in my direction. Aside perhaps from gender, there is nothing within my identity that routinely comes under attack in the society in which I live. This should surely be true for anyone living in our society today but sadly this remains a privileged position to be in and a failure to recognise and respond accordingly to that privilege is arguably tantamount to contributing to the problem. There are those within our society who come under regular attack for expressing their faith or for remaining true to other aspects of their identity. For them, the words of our Psalm will surely resonate with an added intensity?
It isn’t only a statement of despair though. Steadfast faith and a sense of endurance shine through the words, as does a certainty that praising God is the way out of the mire. For those facing despair, God’s love and the expression of what that love means, is what will bring comfort and deliverance from the raging storm. And when we find ourselves in the position of privilege, we can embody that loving support in the way we live out our lives and in our relationships with others.
Comforting and all embracing God, Shine through the darkness of despair, Rescue those who face derision for expressing themselves and their faith, give us the strength to support and encourage others to raise their heads above the cries of hatred, for in the face of every challenge and confrontation, we will lift up our voices in praise to you. Amen.