Psalms that don't sit well

In these Covid times my minister has been providing a daily office going through the Psalms. It has made me think that often the sentiments contained are not what I can express.

Today we had Psalm 44 https://bible.oremus.org/?passage=psalm+44
and for the first time my minister excised some verses- vv13-19.

13 You have made us the taunt of our neighbours,
the derision and scorn of those around us.
14 You have made us a byword among the nations,
a laughing-stock* among the peoples.
15 All day long my disgrace is before me,
and shame has covered my face
16 at the words of the taunters and revilers,
at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.


17 All this has come upon us,
yet we have not forgotten you,
or been false to your covenant.
18 Our heart has not turned back,
nor have our steps departed from your way,
19 yet you have broken us in the haunt of jackals,
and covered us with deep darkness.

What do others do when coming across such sentiments in the Psalms?

Comments

  • ECraigRECraigR Shipmate
    I read the psalms as being an open and honest record of the encountering of God through prayer. The psalms have the full range of human experience in them and present the human person fully alive, in all the dumb complexity that entails. In the Episcopal Church the Daily Office lectionary goes through all the psalms every 6 weeks, and they also provide options for avoiding the disagreeable parts of the psalms, although as should be clear that's not a practice I engage in.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    You reach verse 17, and expect the remaining verses to be positive - we have forgotten you, have been false to your covenant etc, and thus we have merited the reproaches described.
  • LatchKeyKidLatchKeyKid Shipmate
    I can understand them as an open and honest account of a person's religious experience.

    But if they do not accord with a person or community's current experience do they become an observation of someone else's experience rather than an expression of a person's own feeling?
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    I can understand them as an open and honest account of a person's religious experience.

    But if they do not accord with a person or community's current experience do they become an observation of someone else's experience rather than an expression of a person's own feeling?
    I tend to agree with @ECraigR’s take. Even when I pray them on my own*, I don’t expect them to be an expression of my personal feeling or experience, though they often are. I expect them to reflect human experience and human feelings, which sometimes mirror my own (including those I’d prefer not to acknowledge) and which always invite me to share in the wider human experience.


    * I fall into the camp that believes even when I pray in my own closet, as it were, I still pray as part of the community, as part of the Body of Christ. I think that’s especially true of forms of prayer like the daily office, including the psalms.

  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    @LatchKeyKid I'd be more concerned that by trimming those verses, he or she has changed the meaning of the whole psalm. I read it as,

    Lord you did great and wonderful things in the past.
    You tell us to have confidence in you.
    We do.
    We've done what you said.
    So why now aren't you helping us?
    As far as we can see, we've done everything right.
    If we had forgotten you, we can see that you'd be entitled to forget us.
    But we haven't.
    So come on Lord, rouse yourself.


    Cutting out the verses in the middle is cutting out the argument with God and the questioning. It's just saying,

    Lord you did great and wonderful things in the past.
    You tell us to have confidence in you.
    You're a great God.
    So come and help us.

    I can see why people trim out verses to make psalms shorter, but am much less tolerant of trimming out the bits we don't like or challenge the version of God we'd prefer. A good example is the section in the Venite 'today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts .... '

  • The verses you quote are clearly a prophecy of how the rest of the world regards Britain after Brexit! Praise the Lord!
  • Amen, Brother!

    Or even (sad to say) the way in which much of the world regards certain brands of 'Christian'...let the reader understand...

    Glary be to Gard!
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    The verses you quote are clearly a prophecy of how the rest of the world regards Britain after Brexit! Praise the Lord!
    vv13-16, yes. If anything, an understatement of the mockery and contempt this country, and particularly the English bit of it, richly deserves.

    However, I don't think there are any Brexitists, even the small number of fruitcakes that read the crankier magazines with titles that include the word 'prophecy', who claim to number themselves within vv 17-18.

    Mind, I probably count as a heretic. A lot of reflection on the subject has given me very profound doubts as to whether since AD 30 God sees nations or is particularly interested in them as corporate entities. Individuals, yes, people, yes. the church universal, yes, local churches, yes, nations, no, their rise and fall, no.

  • Totally agree @Enoch. When everyone was getting very worked up about Brexit, it struck me that God probably isn't worried about whether or not Britain is in the EU. He's more concerned about how we treat each other.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    I suspect even with political leaders, his main concerns aren't with policy so much as whether they act with integrity, whether they recognise that they are accountable to him and whether they seek to benefit others or glorify themselves.
  • In these Covid times my minister has been providing a daily office going through the Psalms. It has made me think that often the sentiments contained are not what I can express.

    Today we had Psalm 44 https://bible.oremus.org/?passage=psalm+44
    and for the first time my minister excised some verses- vv13-19.

    13 You have made us the taunt of our neighbours,
    the derision and scorn of those around us.
    14 You have made us a byword among the nations,
    a laughing-stock* among the peoples.
    15 All day long my disgrace is before me,
    and shame has covered my face
    16 at the words of the taunters and revilers,
    at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.


    17 All this has come upon us,
    yet we have not forgotten you,
    or been false to your covenant.
    18 Our heart has not turned back,
    nor have our steps departed from your way,
    19 yet you have broken us in the haunt of jackals,
    and covered us with deep darkness.

    I don't think our minister would really emphasise the point - but for me, that sits well with how it feels to be part of a small, dying congregation in a neighbourhood which feels at best indifferent, and at worst hostile to the faith we follow. That doesn't make me want to form a pressure group and bemoan our fate with special pleading in public, like some do; in the Psalm it's a statement of confusion and humility, between us and God. That seems appropriate. What should we do, Lord?
  • LatchKeyKidLatchKeyKid Shipmate
    Another Psalm which usually has the "offending elements" excised is Psalm 137 - The "By The Waters of Babylon" Psalm. The offending verses, which are also not contained in modern song versions are:-

    https://bible.oremus.org/?ql=460725188

    Remember, O Lord, against the people of Edom
    the day of Jerusalem,
    how they said, ‘Down with it, down with it,
    even to the ground.’
    O daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction,
    happy the one who repays you
    for all you have done to us;
    Who takes your little ones,
    and dashes them against the rock.
  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    I can understand them as an open and honest account of a person's religious experience.

    But if they do not accord with a person or community's current experience do they become an observation of someone else's experience rather than an expression of a person's own feeling?

    You never know where someone is in their own experience. For some people at some times it seems like any expression of faith is pointless. God is not hearing or responding and devotion to God itself seems to be causing more problems. The jolly God's-taking-care-of-everything verses look like someone else's world, and these What, Lord?! What?! When will you make things better? passages much more to the point. The Psalms have something for every season. Sometimes it's your season and sometimes not.
  • TelfordTelford Shipmate
    Totally agree @Enoch. When everyone was getting very worked up about Brexit, it struck me that God probably isn't worried about whether or not Britain is in the EU. He's more concerned about how we treat each other.

    Totally agree.
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