A Riff on Psalm 42

What do I know about deer? Only that there are too many of them
They keep getting killed by cars and trucks
But I know about dry and thirsty souls
Feeling that my mind is parched, my soul is shriveled
Was it P, P & M who sang about the woman at the well?
“Jesus met the woman at the well…
She went running, crying, ‘God help me.’”
I’m a woman, dry and thirsty, at Your well of eternal water
God, help me
I can’t say that I cry – even crying is too active
I can’t even say that I am waiting
I’m just kind of hibernating, shriveling, longing
Trying to remember what it felt like to be confident
To feel blessed, under Your protection, Mighty Wisdom Woman,
To join others with songs and shouts of joy and praise
It’s not like it was long ago – there are moments, more than moments
When I live even now within that joy and hope and friendship
But then why do I still get so downcast? Why so parched again?
Why so disturbed within myself? Why so hopeless?
Back and forth I go, between hope and despair, between love and loss
“Deep calls to deep”, the psalmist says
“All Your waves and breakers have swept over me”
Some days I feel You with me, some nights I’m content
Your song and prayer fill my life
Then again I start feeling like You have forgotten me
That there is nothing in my life but mourning and regret
Oppressed by my own doubts, feeling more dead than alive
Questioning, doubting, crying, Where are You, God?
Why do I struggle so, again and again? Why is my peace of mind so fragile?
Give me Your everlasting water, that I may never thirst again
And the psalmist tells me
Put your hope in God for you will yet praise God
God, your Savior. Amen.

Psalm 43

I ask You, O God, once again – again and again –
Help me, defend me, save me, here on earth
As You have done for eternity
Save me from deceitful distractions, deliver me from unworthy interests
You are God – mighty over all – so if I can’t depend on You to help me
What hope do I have?
So help me already, I’m tired, weary of walking about as if in mourning,
Weary of feeling as if I am oppressed by an enemy,
When I am my own enemy, always
O God, my God, blind me to the world, blind me with your blazing truth
Let your truth lead me, your beauty guide me
Let me look at the world, let me live my life, as if from atop Your holy hill
As if worshiping always at Your altar
Let me laugh with the joy of Your service; sing with Your praise
(Never mind that I can’t carry a tune; You don’t care so I won’t either)
Stop feeling sorry for yourself, O my soul, stop your grumbling
Stop feeling you need to be something more
Stop regretting you aren’t special, aren’t more talented, aren’t a saint
God wants what you are, not what you are not.
So just put your hope, your faith, your joy, your life in God
Who is Lady Wisdom
Praise God, your help. Amen .

Psalm 44

I remember, or try to remember, what You have already done for me, God
How many times You lifted me up out of depression, despair, doubt
Lifted me to the peace of dry land above the floods of my anguish
How many times You freed me from my guilt and discouragement
I didn’t win through by my own marvelous intellect or serene self-confidence or glowing health
You won through for me
It was Your light that dispelled my darkness
Your face that was the day sun driving down the deep night
Help me, help me, help me again, now and always, today and tomorrow
And tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,
To remember that You are my Sovereign, my God, my Wisdom Woman
Through You, in Your name, I live well
Not necessarily happily but well
No human philosophies, no latest remedies can save me
Only You, Only You, Only You
I will give thanks to Your name forever
I have been feeling abandoned, as though You rejected me
Refused to fight my enemies, gave up on me
Left me in darkness and despair, scattered and shattered my peace
So I disappoint myself and others
All day long my disgrace is before me and shame covers my face
I hide in my bed, on my sofa, in my electronic world
What did I do, what did I fail to do, how am I at fault
Did I decide to turn from You? I don’t think so.
Did I reject You, doubt You
(well, yes, OK, I doubted, but that is nothing new)
Come on, God, You know me
It’s not like my doubts and failings are news to You
So, please, please, please, rouse Yourself. Wake up
Take me back, let Your face be my sun again
Don’t forget me, don’t let me sink into the dust of mysee terrible Ds
Rise up, come to my help
Redeem me, yet again and always, for the sake of Your steadfast love
Amen and Thank You

Psalm 45

Here’s a psalm of joy and celebration; here’s an ode to banished terrible Ds
In You, O God, in faith, in love, my heart overflows
In You I feel blessed forever; You are my strength and my beauty
You give me victory over doubt, despair, depression, darkness, danger, denial, even death
You pierce my heart with love and in that piercing those deadly internal enemies die
Your glory and majesty become my own
Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever
Your justice is Your scepter
You are crowned with righteousness
All of our images, our poor Disney images, of kings and queens, princes and princesses
Pale before the reality of Your everlasting majesty
You are the reality, the rest, even the “real” earthly royalty, are pretenders
Imitators, shadows in this shadowland
But if You are Sovereign and we are Your children, then we too are royalty
Through You, because of You
We bow to You and You lift us up
With joy and gladness we are led to You – led by Your mercy
So we enter Your palace, the palace of our Sovereign Parent
We are Yours, O Sovereign from eternity, Sovereign from always, for always
You have made us Your children
We will celebrate Your Name in all generations
We will praise You forever and ever. Amen.

Psalm 36

God’s message is in my heart, even more than in a book or a church
God warns me about the futility of going my own way, of ignoring God
When I flatter myself, when I rely on myself,
When I regard my independence with pride
That is exactly when I am most blind
When I brag, when I focus on getting my own way
That is when I lie awake at night, feeling lost, feeling like a fake
I lose my way, I can’t tell right from wrong
Then, once again, You save me, O God
Your love reaches to the heavens – and to my depths
Your faithfulness is wider than the skies
Your righteousness is higher and stronger than my mountain of doubt
Your love, Your love, O God is priceless and precious
I can take refuge in the shadow of Your wings
I can feast on the abundance of Your gracious bounty
I can drink from Your river of delights, from Your wellspring of eternal life
In Your light, I see light; In Your light I live life eternal
Continue Your loving attention that I may not forget You
Let Your righteousness take root in my heart
Let Your righteousness grow ever stronger in me
Strangling the pride, crowding out the doubt, burying the discouragement
Let Your righteousness be my guard against sin
Amen.

Psalm 37

God, help me to not fret over my shortcomings or keep thinking I am inferior
Those that I envy are no better than me; they are just as mortal, just as sinful
Grant me peace of mind that I may trust in You, do good, enjoy my life
Let me delight in You and remember that my truest desires are centered in You
Let me commit – again and again – to You and trust that You will give me my true desires
Let Your righteousness be mine, shining with dawn’s new light
Let Your justice be mine, shining with noon’s bright glare
Let Your peace be mine, shining with evening’s gentle glow
Still my restless soul that I may wait patiently for You without worry or anxiety, without dread or envy
Help me to turn from anger and wrath, from all that is bad for my spirit
You will triumph over all my faults; You will bless my trust with a place in Your kingdom
A little while You promise, and I will struggle no more
You will banish and vanish my faults, my terrible Ds
So, trusting in Your greatness, I will live peacefully with meekness in Your grace
I may feel torn now, like a battle between good and evil rages within me and I am losing
But You, God, simply laugh at my terrible foes; You know they are no match for You
My battle rages on, the enemies of my peace seem powerful and threaten to conquer me
But You, God, conquer them, You destroy the destroyers
Better one day in Your courts than thousands elsewhere
Better what seems to be Your “little” than deceitful tumultuous longings, envy, wealth and ease
For the power of dis-ease is broken by the might of Your righteousness
You brings days of peace, an everlasting inheritance of goodness
Even when I feel empty or embattled, Your righteousness and love does not desert me
What to me seems like strong choking weeds smothering my peace, will wither before Your power
They will vanish like smoke, burned up by Your righteousness
When I am fearful, I get selfish but when I trust in You, God, I love being generous
Because I remember my rich inheritance through Your blessings
I remember that You guard and firm my path when I walk trusting in Your divine love
Even when I stumble into darkness, Your light will find me, Your strength will lift me up again and again
I was young and now I am old; I was full of faith and then empty; I was hopeful and then despairing
But, though I did not always know it, never was I deserted by You, God
You help me to be generous to others; You bless my children and their children
So I can turn from my inner struggles and look outward to do good, working in Your kingdom forever
You love justice; You are faithful; You protect me; You cut off my doubts and despair
You bequeath Your own righteousness to me; You grant me rights to Your divine eternal kingdom
Because of You, I can be righteousness, I can speak with wisdom and justice
I can keep Your peace and justice in my heart, letting it guide me
Doubt and despair may still contend for my soul, for my peace
But You will not leave me in their power or let them condemn me
Let me wait for You, God, my gracious Lady Wisdom, and keep Your way
And I will inherit Your kingdom and see the end of my troubles
Although I may feel like trouble is winning in my life
In Your time it will soon pass away and be no more
Here is what I want to remember always:
There is future – God’s eternal future – for the person of peace
There is no future for doubt, despair, depression, envy or any trouble that destroys God’s peace
Salvation begins with God’s righteousness; God is my stronghold in time of trouble
God helps me, delivers me, save me – not because of my goodness but because I take refuge in God Wisdom Woman. Amen.

Psalm 40

I wait patiently for You, God, to turn to me and hear my cry
I wait for You to lift me out of this slimy pit of sadness
Out of the mud and mire of gloom and discouragement
I wait for You to set my feet on the strong foundation of Your salvation
To give me a firm place to stand in Your peace
I wait for You to put a new song in my heart and mouth
A glad song of praise to You
I would like people to look at me and see You,
Your love and faithfulness shining through
So they will know to trust their happiness to You
Blessed will I be when I trust You that way
When I do not look to my own prideful accomplishments
When I do not put my faith in the idols of this world
Help me, God, to remember the wonders You have already done for me
Help me, God, to trust the good You have planned for me
Help me, God, to remember that none can compare with You
For Your goodness and righteousness is too great to tell or comprehend
Help me, God, to remember that You want ME,
Not my money or possessions, but my love and trust in You
You don’t want a hollow “I’m sorry” but You do want to hear me say
“Here I am, I have come; I desire to do your will, my God
I desire to have Your law within my heart”
Help me, God, to proclaim by my life Your saving acts
Help me, God, to treasure Your righteousness in my heart
Help me, God, to speak of Your faithfulness and saving help
Do not withhold Your mercy from me, God
May Your love and faithfulness always protect me
You know how often I feel that troubles without number surround me
How often I feel that there is no hope, no peace, no goodness in me
How often I can’t stop the negative, hurtful thoughts and feelings
How often my heart, my courage, my optimism, fail me
Be pleased to save me, God; come quickly, God, to help me
Let all the negatives disappear before Your great positive
Let all the despair drown in Your great hope
Let all the dark discouragement vanish in the light of Your great love
Let me, with all who seek You, rejoice and be glad in You
Let me, with all who long for Your saving help, always say
“God is great!”
But for all that, here I sit, poor and needy, again and again, needy
Think of me, please, God
For You alone are my help and my deliverer
You alone are my God
So, please, come quickly, do not delay. Amen.