day 26 – put a psalm in my heart

Let’s read Psalm 69-70 together today and because both of these psalms are about someone’s great grief and cry to God for help (lament), let us read them very slowly and thoughtfully.

This morning, as we read Psalm 69, let us recall once more the terribly destructive power of words of scorn spoken about others. For the one who penned this psalm, one who saw themselves as on the verge of drowning in water and mud, found themselves there because of the words of others about them and their alienation by others as a result. “Scorn has broken my heart and has left me helpless; I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters, but I found none.” (vs. 20) Nothing they do is right in the eyes of others, even their most sincere and humble actions are misconstrued and/or ridiculed (vs. 10-11). They find themselves ostracized by both the most and least respected around them (cf. vs. 12).

If this psalms is not tough reading, then our heart is hard. So, let us read this psalm very slowly and deliberately, resolving afresh with each sentence not to speak ill of others to others lest we drown the life out of others with our shameful words about them.

As you read Psalm 70 this evening, ask yourself: “Who have I encountered today that might be praying this very way right now (i.e – the thought of this psalm)?” Ask the Lord to bring them to your mind and then, pray for them.

Perhaps it is someone you overheard at work who was lamenting some great issue in their life that includes their being mistreated by others. Or perhaps it was via someone’s post that showed up in your social media feed that speaks of a big burden of danger or loss due to gossip about them or a not so small “slight” by others. Or maybe it is a friend or neighbor you have been alongside and just plain “there for” often concerning an issue of relationships.

Then, with them firmly in mind, pray the words of this psalm as if you were them. That is, vividly imagine yourself being them and slowly, very thoughtfully, pray each phrase of this psalm. Then having done so, step back into your own shoes again and ask the Lord to use you however he would to be a blessing to the one for whom you prayed and for the Lord to intervene on behalf of the one you’ve just held up to him. Drift off to sleep reminding yourself of the Lord’s faithfulness and continual love for all.

Two notes. * Psalm 69 is similar to Ps. 22 and just like it, is quoted and alluded to several times in the New Testament (vs. 4 [Jn. 15.25]; vs. 9 [Jn. 2.17; Rom. 15.3]; vs. 21 [Matt. 27.48; Mk. 15.36; Jn. 19.28-29]; vs. 22-23 [Rom. 11.9-10]; vs. 25 [Acts 1.20]). Jesus could identify with this psalm and the early church identified it with him again and again. If we are truly living for him, we will surely relate to it, too (“… everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…” – 2 Tim. 3.12). * All of Psalm 70 is virtually a mirror-image of the closing section of Ps. 40 (vs. 13-17). We can learn much from, and can do well in, praying the prayers of others.