It is impossible to read the Psalms and not come away with more than you have given. The Lord speaks to us through them to the very details of our lives, answering all our concerns, all our prayers even before we ask Him. He is a good and loving God.
Psalm 71, one of the Psalms appointed for the fourteenth day of the month, always stops me in my tracks, especially when I read the words, “To many I have seemed an enigma…” How true, Lord, how true! This was true when I used to pray this Psalm thirty-five years ago, and it’s still true today, but so is the second half of that verse, “but You are my firm refuge.”
God is faithful. He maintains us in our first call, and in our first love. All we have to do is stay close to Him. Here I share with you, brethren, a psalm of a man in his age, and a psalm of the same man in his youth, the sinner but servant of God, Romanós.
Psalms for the 14th Day
71 72 73 74
An old man's prayer
In You, Yahweh, I take shelter;
never let me be disgraced.
In Your righteousness rescue me, deliver me,
turn Your ear to me and save me!
Be a sheltering rock for me,
a walled fortress to save me!
For You are my rock, my fortress.
My God, rescue me from the hands of the wicked,
from the clutches of rogue and tyrant!
For You alone are my hope, Lord,
Yahweh, I have trusted You since my youth,
I have relied on You since I was born,
You have been my portion from my mother's womb,
and the constant theme of my praise.
To many I have seemed an enigma,
but You are my firm refuge.
My mouth is full of Your praises,
filled with Your splendour all day long.
Do not reject me, now I am old,
nor desert me, now my strength is failing,
for my enemies are uttering threats,
spies hatching their conspiracy:
‘Hound him down now that God has deserted him,
seize him, there is no one to rescue him!’
God, do not stand aside,
my God, come quickly and help me!
Shame and ruin on those
who attack me;
may insult and disgrace cover those
whose aim is to hurt me!
I promise that, ever hopeful,
I will praise You more and more,
my lips shall proclaim Your righteousness
and power to save, all day long.
I will come in the power of Yahweh
to commemorate Your righteousness, Yours alone.
God, You taught me when I was young,
and I am still proclaiming Your marvels.
Now that I am old and grey,
God, do not desert me;
let me live to tell the rising generation
about Your strength and power,
about Your heavenly righteousness, God.
You have done great things;
who, God, is comparable to You?
You have sent me misery and hardship,
but You will give me life again,
You will pull me up again from the depths of the earth,
prolong my old age, and once more comfort me.
I promise I will thank You on the lyre,
my ever-faithful God,
I will play the harp in Your honour,
Holy One of Israel.
My lips shall sing for joy as I play to You,
and this soul of mine which You have redeemed.
All day long, my tongue
shall be talking of Your righteousness.
Shame and disgrace on those
whose aim is to hurt me!
The triumph of justice
God is indeed good to Israel,
the Lord is good to pure hearts.
My feet were on the point of stumbling,
a little further and I should have slipped,
envying the arrogant as I did,
and watching the wicked get rich.
For them, no such thing as pain,
their bodies are healthy and strong,
they do not suffer as other men do,
no human afflictions for them!
So pride is their chain of honour,
violence the garment that covers them;
their spite oozes like fat,
their hearts drop with slyness.
Cynical advocates of evil,
lofty advocates of force,
they think their mouth is heaven
and their tongue can dictate on earth.
This is why my people turn to them
and lap up all they say,
asking, 'How will God find out?
Does the Most High know everything?
Look at them: these are the wicked,
well-off and still getting richer!'
After all, why should I keep my own heart pure,
and wash my hands in innocence,
if You plague me all day long
and discipline me every morning?
Had I said, 'That talk appeals to me',
I should have betrayed your children's race.
Instead, I tried to analyse the problem,
hard though I found it—
until the day I pierced the mystery
and saw the end in store for them:
they are on a slippery slope, You put them there,
You urge them on to ruin,
until suddenly they fall,
done for, terrified to death.
When You wake up, Lord, You shrug them off
like the phantoms of a waking dream.
When my heart had been growing sourer
with pains shooting through my loins,
I had simply failed to understand,
my stupid attitude to You was brutish.
Even so, I stayed in Your presence,
You held my right hand;
now guide me with advice
and in the end receive me into glory.
I look to no one else in heaven,
I delight in nothing else on earth.
My flesh and my heart are pining with love,
my heart's Rock, my own, God for ever!
So then: those who abandon You are doomed,
You destroy the adulterous deserter;
whereas my joy lies in being close to God.
I have taken shelter in the Lord,
continually to proclaim what You have done.