We have heard with our ears, O God, our ancestors have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old:
you with your own hand drove out the nations, but them you planted; you afflicted the peoples, but them you set free;
for not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm give them victory; but your right hand, and your arm, and the light of your countenance, for you delighted in them.
You are my King and my God; you command victories for Jacob.
Through you we push down our foes; through your name we tread down our assailants.
For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes, and have put to confusion those who hate us.
In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah
Yet you have rejected us and abased us, and have not gone out with our armies.
You made us turn back from the foe, and our enemies have gotten spoil.
You have made us like sheep for slaughter, and have scattered us among the nations.
You have sold your people for a trifle, demanding no high price for them.
You have made us the taunt of our neighbors, the derision and scorn of those around us.
You have made us a byword among the nations, a laughingstock among the peoples.
All day long my disgrace is before me, and shame has covered my face
at the words of the taunters and revilers, at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.
All this has come upon us, yet we have not forgotten you, or been false to your covenant.
Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from your way,
yet you have broken us in the haunt of jackals, and covered us with deep darkness.
If we had forgotten the name of our God, or spread out our hands to a strange god,
would not God discover this? For he knows the secrets of the heart.
Because of you we are being killed all day long, and accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Rouse yourself! Why do you sleep, O Lord? Awake, do not cast us off forever!
Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
For we sink down to the dust; our bodies cling to the ground.
Rise up, come to our help. Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love.
I tried to age this picture from a 140 year old Bible that we have from my Dad’s side of our family. Its a huge volume and has all kinds of genealogical information in the front and it is just a beautiful volume to have. But it feels old, weathered, lived-in. Much like the stories that have been passed down to us – stories that we want to experience in our own time. This Psalm is quite a series of emotions – from the statements of faith in what has come before transitioning right into, “um…why not us God? Have you forgotten us?” Some of the language in this Psalm is just raw and brutal. But its real. Its exactly where the writer is and it is a prayer of lament about the circumstances of life. Lament is a deeply honest expression of faith. Its calling upon God to do what God has done before. In the weathered pages and stories of Joshua, we read of God leading the people into the Promised Land (as is recounted in the beginning of this Psalm). Yet the people are crying out once agin.
We can do the same today – we may lament and acknowledge a struggle of finding God in the midst of where we find ourselves. But like has been said before…we’re still talking to God whether it is the song of deepest praise or the deepest and most painful lament.