Ordinary Prayer: Psalm 20

Psalms 20 and 21 are prayers for the king. It strikes me that they are connected in thought with David’s Psalm 18 in which he recounts and praises God for God’s deliverance from Saul.

Here is a paraphrase of Psalm 20. In it I was taken with the line in verse 1, “may the name of the God of Jacob protect you.” You may remember in Genesis 32 that Jacob wrestles with God and in that night match, Jacob clings and asks, “Please tell me your name.” To which the Unknown adversary responds, “‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And there he blessed him.” That scene obviously influenced my paraphrase or midrash. The Lord does not reveal to Jacob his name, and yet he blesses. The name of the Lord is not a talisman or a ‘spell’ that one invokes to gain power over circumstance. Nevertheless, the Lord comes to us, engages us, blesses us, and promises never to forsake us.

May the Lord come to your help when you need,
and may the one to whom Jacob clung, cling to you.
May help come straight from the holy place
and reinforcement come from Zion.
May God remember your service to him
and smile upon the gift you give him.
May God fulfill all your wants
and bring your plans to pass.

Pray, all of you, shout for joy because you’ve been saved,
and unfurl the banners for his praise!
Pray Lord, answer our prayers!
I’ve seen it, I know he saves his chosen king;
from his holy place above, he’ll send his answer,
and his fingerprints will be all over the salvation he works.

You know, some kings trust in their armies, their war machines and cavalry.
Not us, we trust in the Lord God who says we can call anytime.
Those others give way and fall down, but we rise up and stand tall.
Lord, we pray, save the king! Pray, answer us when we call.

© Randall Edwards 2020. This paraphrase of Psalm 20 is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com).

Ordinary Prayer: Psalm 19

The psalms are not the high-culture language of a life lived looking down on others. They are the down to earth lyrics of God’s people. The Psalms are words penned by some of them most famous Old Testament saints, and they have worked their way into the hearts of the church for millennia. Psalm 19 is one of those songs.

This is a paraphrase of Psalm 19.

The night sky is the word of your worth, O God,
and the daytime brings all your skill to light.
Day after day something new is said
and each night more news is shared.
You can’t get away from it;
everywhere you hear it and everything has something to say.
The news goes all ‘round the globe,
and its word goes from one end to the other.
The expanse above is like a blue tent
for the sun which runs straight across the sky
like a bridegroom to his wedding or a strong man into battle;
it delights to do so.
From his rising he crosses the sky
from one end to the other
and nothing can escape its heat.

The law of the Lord is just-right, giving life to life;
the word of the Lord is dependable and makes sages of plain folk.
The things the Lord says are right, they give joy through and through;
the commands of the Lord are clear and help one see;
Knowing the holiness of Lord makes one holy forever;
the measures of the Lord are straight and completely just.
You’ll want these more than money, more than the best investments,
and these are sweeter than any honey you’ll ever come across.

And what is more, You keep me safe in their warnings
and show me the great fruit of following them.
Tell me now, who can really see?
Who can disentangle a heart from the knots of wrong?
Who can clear up one’s inner self-deceptions?
Please don’t let me stumble into presuming upon you.
Don’t let sin gain leverage against me.
Only then will I be free of blame and innocent.
Let the words I say and the thoughts on which I chew
be what would bring pleasure to you, O Lord,
the one who holds me up
and the one who has my back.

© Randall Edwards 2020. This paraphrase of Psalm 19 is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com