Sunday, 28 January 2024 Psalm 18 25 – 50 The Rev’d Fiona Bennett

 

Sunday, 28 January 2024 
 Psalm 18 25 – 50

You repaid me because I was just

and my hands were clean in your eyes.

You are loving with those who love you:

you show yourself perfect with the perfect.
 

With the sincere you show yourself sincere,

but the cunning you outdo in cunning.

For you save a humble people

but humble the eyes that are proud.

You, O Lord, are my lamp,

my God who lightens my darkness.

With you I can break through any barrier,

with my God I can scale any wall.

Your ways, O God, are perfect;

your word O Lord, is purest gold.

You indeed are the shield

of all who make you their refuge.

For who is God but the Lord?

Who is a rock but you my God?

you who gird me with strength

and make the path safe before me.

My feet you make swift as the deer’s;

you have made me stand firm on the heights.

You have trained my hands for battle

and my arms to bend the heavy bow.

You gave me your saving shield;

you upheld me, trained me with care.

You gave me freedom for my steps;

my feet have never slipped.

I pursued and overtook my foes,

never turning back till they were slain.

I smote them so they could not rise;

they fell beneath my feet.

You girded me with strength for battle;

you made my enemies fall beneath me,

you made my foes take flight;

those who hated me I destroyed.

They cried, but there was no one to save them;

they cried to the Lord, but in vain.

I crushed them fine as dust before the wind;

trod them down like dirt in the streets.

You saved me from the feuds of the people

and put me at the head of the nations.

People unknown to me served me:

when they heard of me they obeyed me.

Foreign nations came to me cringing:

foreign nations faded away.

They came trembling out of their strongholds.

Long life to you, Lord, my rock!

Praise to you, God, who saves me,

the God who gives me redress

and subdues people under me.

You saved me from my furious foes.

You set me above my assailants.

You saved me from violent hands,

so I will praise you, Lord, among the nations:
 

I will sing a psalm to your name.

you have given great victories to your king

and shown your love for your anointed,

for David and his line for ever.

The Psalms: An Inclusive Language Version based on the Grail translation from the Hebrew

© 1963, 1986 The Grail (England) GIA Publications

Reflection

Variants of Ps 18 can be found in Ps 144 and 2 Samuel 22, where David offers a psalm of praise for his victory over his enemies. This has led scholars to conclude that Ps 18 is a very ancient psalm, used in various contexts as a Royal Psalm of Thanksgiving for victory in war.

I wrestle with the thinking and potential use of this Psalm… If an army wins a war, does that mean God was on their side? Did Jesus not show us how to use power differently, call us to love our enemies (who are people shaped by their own context and experience) and to follow the hard, transforming road of peace, non-violence and reconciliation? Does triumphalism ever truly glorify God?

I don’t read psalms as full systematic theologies. However, I can clearly recognise in the psalmist’s words the sense of relief and gratitude in relation to their experience. The psalmist is expressing gratitude to God for being their rock throughout difficult times, and relief for release from the fear, suffering and constraint of conflict. Used by a king, this gratitude and relief includes the fate of their people.

Today, I would like the leaders of Sudan, Ethiopia and Ukraine to know the gratitude and relief that their people were no longer experiencing armed violence, conflict and the abuses of war.

Today, I would like leaders across the world to know the gratitude and relief that the conflict between consumerism and destruction of the planet was ended, and that global humanity was on a firm path to a healthy earth.

And while we long, pray and work for these places of gratitude and relief today, we too can draw strength from the reminder that God, our rock, is working with us.

Prayer

God our rock,
In you we trust and hope.
Be with all who lead in our world
that they may find the courage and wisdom
to follow your ways of justice and peace.
As citizens of democracies,
help us to use our power and influence wisely,
to build a world which reflects your Realm
and truly brings you glory.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.

 

Today’s writer

The Rev’d Fiona Bennett is minister of Augustine United Church in Edinburgh

Copyright

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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