My troubles (Ps 119:81-119:88)

Kaph

“My soul languishes for your salvation.

I hope in your word.

My eyes fail with watching for your promise.

I ask.

‘When will you comfort me?’

I have become like a wineskin in the smoke.

Yet I have not forgotten your statutes.

How long must your servant endure?

When will you judge those who persecute me?

Arrogant men have dug pitfalls for me.

They flout your law.

All your commandments are enduring.

I am persecuted without cause.

Help me!

They have almost made an end of me on earth.

But I have not forsaken your precepts.

In your steadfast love,

Spare my life!

Thus I may keep the decrees of your mouth.”

This psalmist was in a bad situation. He longed for salvation because he hoped in the word of God. His eyes were failing. He wanted to know when Yahweh would comfort him. Even though he was like a smoking wineskin, he still had not forgotten the statutes of Yahweh. He wanted to know how long he had to wait before God would judge and persecute the arrogant men who were setting pitfalls for him. They were flouting the law so that he was persecuted without any real reason. He cried to God for help. They had almost killed him. Despite all this, the psalmist still had not forsaken the precepts of Yahweh. Yahweh’s steadfast love had spared his life. He had the decrees of Yahweh in his mouth. So ends this section on the eleventh consonant letter of the Hebrew alphabet, Kaph.

Yahweh helped those at sea (Ps 107:23-107:32)

“Some went down to the sea in ships.

He did business on the mighty waters.

They saw the deeds of Yahweh.

They saw his wondrous works in the deep.

He commanded.

He raised the stormy wind.

He lifted up the waves of the sea.

They mounted up to heaven.

They went down to the depths.

Their courage melted away in their calamity.

They reeled.

They staggered like drunkards.

They were at their wits’ end.

Then they cried to Yahweh in their trouble.

He brought them out from their distress.

He made the storm be still.

The waves of the sea were hushed.

Then they were glad

Because they had quiet.

He brought them to their desired haven.

Let them thank Yahweh

For his steadfast love!

Let them thank Yahweh

For his wonderful works to humankind!

Let them extol him

In the congregation of the people.

Let them praise him

In the assembly of the elders.”

This is the case where those who were seafarers saw the great deeds of Yahweh.   Yahweh commanded the storms. He commanded the waves to go high and low so that their ships often reeled like drunken sailors. However, when they cried to Yahweh, he heard them in their distress. Yahweh stilled the storms and urged the waves to be quiet. Then like in the preceding verses, they had to give thanks for Yahweh’s steadfast love and wonderful works. They also had to praise him among the people and the elders.

Yahweh helped the prisoners (Ps 107:10-107:16)

“Some sat in darkness.

Some sat in gloom.

They were prisoners in misery.

They were prisoners in irons.

They had rebelled against the words of God.

They had spurned the counsel of the Most High.

Their hearts were bowed down with hard labor.

They fell down.

There was no one to help them.

Then they cried to Yahweh in their trouble.

He saved them from their distress.

He brought them out of darkness.

He brought them out of gloom.

He broke their bonds asunder.

Let them thank Yahweh

For his steadfast love!

Let them thank Yahweh

For his wonderful works to humankind!

He shatters the doors of bronze.

He cuts in two the bars of iron.”

Some people were in darkness and gloom. They were prisoners in misery and in actual irons, shackled together, because they had rebelled against God. They had turned away from the counsel of the Most High God. They were in forced labor with no one to help them. These people were not innocent, since they had done or said something against God. However, they cried to Yahweh for help in their distress. Guess what? He saved them from their distress, darkness, and gloom. He tore their chains apart. Now they should give thanks to Yahweh for his steadfast love and wondrous deeds. He shattered the doors of bronze and the iron bars. They were now free people.

Yahweh was faithful to his covenant (Ps 106:44-106:46)

“Nevertheless Yahweh regarded their distress,

When he heard their cry.

For their sake,

He remembered his covenant.

He showed compassion

According to the abundance of his steadfast love.

He caused them to be pitied

By all those who held them captive.”

Despite the many incidents when Israel turned against their leaders and Yahweh himself, he always kept his covenant with them. Whenever they cried to Yahweh, he heard their cry. He remembered his covenant and showed compassion out of his abundant steadfast love. Even those who captured them had pity on them.

Yahweh and the ancient intercessors (Ps 99:6-99:7)

“Moses and Aaron were among his priests.

Samuel also was among

Those who called on his name.

They cried to Yahweh.

He answered them.

He spoke to them in the pillar of the cloud.

They kept his decrees.

They kept the statutes that he gave them.”

We see that there are 3 main figures of the past that dominate, Moses, Aaron, and Samuel. Moses and Aaron were called priests. Samuel was more of a prophet intercessor. They cried to Yahweh who answered them in the cloud pillar. Why were these ancient ones of Moses, Aaron, and Samuel successful? They kept the decrees and statutes of Yahweh. These decrees and statutes came directly from Yahweh, so that there was very little dispute about them.

The final plea to Yahweh (Ps 88:13-88:18)

“I cry out to you!

Yahweh!

In the morning

My prayer comes before you.

Yahweh!

Why do you cast me off?

Why do you hide your face from me?

Wretched and close to death from my youth on,

I suffer your terrors.

I am desperate.

Your wrath has swept over me.

Your dread assaults destroy me.

They surround me

Like a flood

All day long.

From all sides,

They close in on me.

You have caused friends

To shun me.

You have caused neighbors

To shun me.  

My companions are in darkness.”

Just like Job, the psalmist remains faithful despite all his sufferings. Thus this psalm ends with a direct appeal to Yahweh, over and over again. He cried out in the morning to God. Why was he cast off? Why couldn’t he see the face of God? He believed that his physical suffering was related to his spiritual sufferings. His whole life he has been close to death with his physical afflictions. He felt like he was surrounded with waves of water all around him. More than that was the fact that his friends and neighbors were now shunning him. The only friend that he had left was darkness itself. Wow! This is a dreary bleak psalm of agony.

Personal prayer to Yahweh (Ps 86:1-86:7)

A Prayer of David

“Incline your ear!

Yahweh!

Answer me!

I am poor and needy.

Preserve my life!

I am devoted to you.

Save your servant who trusts in you!

You are my God!

Be gracious to me!

Yahweh!

I cry to you all day long.

Gladden the soul of your servant!

Yahweh!

I lift up my soul to you!

Yahweh!

You are good.

You are forgiving,

You abound in steadfast love

To all who call on you.

Give ear to my prayer!

Yahweh!

Listen to my cry of supplication!

In the day of my trouble,

I call on you.

You will answer me.”

Psalm 86 seems like a personal prayer of David. There is no other indication in the title. David wanted Yahweh to listen to him by giving him his ear. He wanted an answer since he was poor and needy. He wanted to preserve his life since he was devoted to Yahweh. He trusted in Yahweh as a servant. All day long he cried to Yahweh, his God. He wanted Yahweh to be gracious to him and gladden his soul. He knew that Yahweh was good and forgiving due to his steadfast love. David wanted Yahweh to hear him in the times of his trouble. He called and expected an answer.

God’s great deeds (Ps 66:16-66:19)

“Come and hear!

All you who fear God!

I will tell you

What he has done for me.

I cried aloud to him.

He was extolled with my tongue.

If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,

Yahweh would not have listened.

But truly God has listened.

He has given heed

To the words of my prayer.”

The psalmist asked everyone who feared God to come and listen to his words. He was going to tell them what Yahweh had done for him. He cried out to God. God listened and responded because he did not have iniquity in his heart. God had given a response to his prayer.

Blessed be Yahweh (Ps 31:21-31:22)

“Blessed be Yahweh!

He has wondrously shown

His steadfast love to me,

When I was beset

As a city under siege.

I had said in my alarm.

‘I am driven far from your sight.’

But you heard my supplications,

When I cried to you for help.”

Yahweh was blessed. He had shown his steadfast love to David, especially when he was like a city under siege. David thought that he was far from the sight of Yahweh. He was alarmed and cried for help from Yahweh. When he cried, Yahweh came to help him. Yahweh was truly his blessed help.

Praise to Yahweh (Ps 30:1-30:3)

A psalm of David, a song at the dedication of the Temple

I will extol you!

Yahweh!

You have drawn me up!

You did not let my foes rejoice over me!

Yahweh!

My God!

I cried to you for help!

You have healed me!

Yahweh!

You have brought up my soul from Sheol!

You restored me to life

From among those gone down to the pit!”

Psalm 30 is another psalm of David, but explicitly mentioned as from the dedication of the Temple. However, the Temple was not completed until the time of King Solomon his son. Thus it is a thanksgiving psalm for the great works of Yahweh. David or this psalmist wanted to extol Yahweh. There was a specific reason for this thanksgiving. David had been healed in some way because his foes or enemies could not rejoice. He had cried for help and Yahweh healed him. He must have been on his death bed because he was brought back from Sheol or the pit, the underworld of death. He was restored to life, almost like a resurrection. He was saved from death.