Against the Temple worship (Am 5:21-5:24)

“I hate your festivals!

I despise your festivals!

I take no delight

In your solemn assemblies!

Even though you offer me

Your burnt offerings,

Your grain offerings,

I will not accept them.

I will not look upon

The peace offerings

Of your fatted animals.

Take away from me

The noise of your songs.

I will not listen

To the melody

Of your harps.

But let justice

Roll down

Like water.

Let righteousness be

Like an ever-flowing stream.”

Amos has Yahweh reject the Temple cultic worship side of Israelite life in very strong terms. Yahweh hated and despised the religious festivals that were part of Temple worship. Neither did Yahweh take any delight in their solemn assemblies. Yahweh was not going to accept their burnt offerings and grain offerings. He was not going to even look at their peace offerings of fat animals. He wanted them to take away the noise of their chants and songs, since he was not going to listen to their melodic harps. Instead, he wanted justice to roll down from the hills like gushing water. He wanted righteousness to be like a continual flowing stream. Justice not worship was his cry, a theme that Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr, (1929-1968) often mentioned, as he wanted justice to roll down from the hills like running water.

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The prayer from the pit (Lam 3:55-3:57)

Qoph

“I called

On your name!

O Yahweh!

From the depths

Of the pit!

You heard my plea!

‘Do not close

Your ear

To my cry

For help!

But give me relief!’

You came near

When I called

On you.

You said.

‘Do not fear!’”

This personalized lament continues with a prayer from the bottom of the pit. This author called out to Yahweh. Yahweh then heard his plea as he did not close his ears. He responded to his cry for relief as he came near to him. Yahweh told him not to fear. There may be a happy ending after all this lamentation. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Qoph in this acrostic poem.

Joshua (Sir 46:1-46:6)

“Joshua

Son of Nun

Was mighty in war.

He was the successor of Moses

In the prophetic office.

He became,

As his name implies,

A great savior of God’s elect.

He took vengeance

On the enemies

That rose against them.

Thus he might give Israel

Its inheritance.

How glorious he was

When he lifted his hands.

He brandished his sword

Against the cities.

Who before him,

Ever stood so firm?

He waged the wars of the Lord.

Was it not through him

That the sun stood still?

Did not one day

Become as long as two?

He called upon the Most High,

The Mighty One,

When enemies pressed him on every side.

The great Lord answered him

With hailstones of mighty power.

He overwhelmed that nation in battle.

On the slope

He destroyed his opponents.

Thus the nations might know his armament.

He was fighting

In the sight of the Lord.

He was a devoted follower of the Mighty One.”

Of course, there was a whole biblical book named after Joshua. Sirach lists him as a warrior and a prophet, who succeeded Moses. This son of Nun was a great savior of God’s people. He wiped out the enemies of Israel so that they might have their inheritance. He lifted up his hand as he swung his sword. Before him, no one had ever waged wars for the Lord like him. He stood firm and created miracles with the sun. He called upon the Most High God, the mighty one, when enemies were all around him. The Lord heard his cry so that his enemies were destroyed. Thus all the countries came to know about his fighting strength for the Lord, as a devoted follower of the Mighty one.

Hear my prayer (Ps 102:1-102:2)

A prayer of one afflicted, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before Yahweh

“Hear my prayer!

Yahweh!

Let my cry come to you!

Do not hide your face from me

In the day of my distress!

Incline your ear to me!

Answer me speedily

In the day when I call!”

Psalm 102 is rather long compared to the preceding psalms with a long descriptive title. This prayer of the afflicted person wishes to pour out his complaint before Yahweh. There is nothing about David here.   This psalmist wants Yahweh to hear his prayers, plain and simple. He wanted his cry to come to the ear of Yahweh and before his face. In the day of his distress and the day when he called, he wanted a speedy answer from Yahweh. He is almost demanding.

Cry for help (Ps 61:1-61:2)

To the choirmaster leader, with stringed instruments, a psalm of David

“Hear my cry!

O God!

Listen to my prayer!

From the end of the earth

I call to you,

When my heart is faint.”

Psalm 61 is a simple choral psalm of David that used stringed instruments. The psalmist or David wants God to hear his cry. He wanted God to listen to his prayer, like the usual plea. However, he speaks from the ends of the earth, as if he were in exile. He calls to God, not Yahweh, when his heart is faint.

David prays to Yahweh (Ps 17:1-17:2)

A Prayer of David.

Hear a just cause!

Yahweh!

Attend to my cry!

Give ear to my prayer

From lips free of deceit!

From you

Let my vindication come!

Let your eyes see the right!”

Now we have a longer Psalm 17 as a prayer of David for deliverance from personal enemies. He starts out by asking Yahweh to hear his cry about a just cause. He wanted Yahweh to listen to his prayer that was coming from lips that were not deceitful. Vindication came only from Yahweh, whose eyes would see the righteousness.

Job’s lament (Job 30:24-30:31)

“Surely one does not turn against the needy.

When in disaster they cry for help.

Did I not weep for those whose day was hard?

Was not my soul grieved for the poor?

But when I looked for good,

Evil came.

When I waited for light,

Darkness came.

My inward parts are in turmoil.

They are never still.

Days of affliction come to meet me.

I go about in sunless gloom.

I stand up in the assembly.

I cry for help.

I am a brother of jackals.

I am a companion of ostriches.

My skin turns black.

My skin falls from me.

My bones burn with heat.

My lyre is turned to mourning.

My pipe is turned to the voice of those who weep.”

This is Job’s final summary lament. The so-called patient Job was upset about his situation. Job had tried to help the needy and the poor when they needed help. However, no one heard his cry for help. He was looking for good things, but all he got was evil things. He wanted light and all he got was darkness. His stomach was upset with various afflictions that had come to him. Every day was a cloudy day. He was like a brother to wild dogs and ostriches. His skin was turning black and falling off. His whole body felt like it was burning up. His musical instruments only played mourning and weeping songs. This was the Job who did not like his situation. This was the distressed impatient Job pleading with God.