Deliver me from evil; Preserve me, Lord, from wrong. Against the foes that gather, Be Thou my helper strong. From those who plot to hurt me And spread their treach’rous snare Preserve me, Lord, and keep me Safeguarded in Thy care.
2 O Lord I have confessed Thee To be my God alone’ O hear my supplication And be Thy mercy shown; O God the Lord, my Saviour, My shield amid the strife, Let not the wicked triumph Who plot against my life.
3 Let evil smite the evil And cause their overthrow, The needy and afflicted The Lord will help, I know; Thy saints, redeemed from evil, Their thanks to Thee shall give; The righteous and the upright Shall in Thy presence live.
I love the tune to which this version of Psalm 140 is set – Bach’s Passion Chorale – and it’s hard for me to hear it without thinking of the words about Jesus the Saviour “O sacred head, sore wounded” which normally accompany this tune. I find both the words about Jesus and the words of the Psalm deeply comforting, and I feel better just for humming the tune as I write this. If you have time, type “passion chorale” into Youtube and bathe in a bit of Bach.
The Psalm’s words and the truth of God incarnate in Jesus are joined by more than just the tune, though. Look at all the words used by the Psalmist to describe God:
preserver, helper, safeguard, saviour, shield, help, redeemer, life. There is unbroken continuity between the faith of the Psalmist and the Christian faith, where we follow Jesus who came to seek and to save the lost, who is saviour, redeemer, the way, the truth and the life.
No follower of Jesus can forget that we should love those who are also children of Abraham. There is no room in the heart of a Christian for anti-Semitism or Islamophobia. There is no doubt that a Christian country should have robust policies about offering a place of sanctuary, redemption, life and help to all who need it. If we cry out to God for our own safety in the words of Psalm 140, we should also ask how we can answer the prayers of others who call out to the same God.
God who is the preserver of all life, hear all who call out to you in need this day, and move the hearts of those with the power to help, that your saving power, shown in Jesus, may be known by every one of your precious children. May your Spirit move among us to make this so Amen.
The Rev’d Ruth Whitehead, Minister in the Landsker Pastorate, Pembrokeshire