Click on the link for the Psalm above (my links show up as red words) or find it in your favorite Bible or digital Bible or listen to Psalm 57:
Bonus: The Lord’s Prayer is about the amount of time you need for hand scrubbing 😉
Breath Prayer: I am including breath prayers because this is the practice that I engage in most often. Sometimes, I simply manage my breathing as I would when I was singing as a warmup and strengthening exercise. This practice helps me to feel centered, strong, and connected with myself and the divine. Sometimes, I add words or intentions for the inhalation and exhalation.
Who in there right mind would lay down with lions? Or spend time with those who persecute them? Why would anyone wait in a place of danger?
Some commentators think that the idea of laying with lions comes from some sort of ritual where an accused person would go to the sanctuary in order to be tired for charges brought against them. The accusers would be there too. And perhaps they would all spend the night together waiting for “some kind divine verdict coming with the dawn” (WBC p. 78). Discernment is in the heart of the believer so it isn’t always clear what kind of sign to expect from God. And Psalm 57 doesn’t offer any clues as to what the psalmist is hoping to see or hear from God either. Waiting in the sanctuary all night is a form of prayer; like being still and listening to your own heart beat; like meditation and being open to the divine; or simply waiting in hope and being present to the love of God that envelops all of creation.
It seems logical that important decisions take time, patience, and a lot of prayer. What is striking about this Psalm is that this time in prayer is spent with two opposing sides. This is either torture or radical community or maybe a little of both. All of the believers sit together with their disagreement and wait on God to show up.
And when does God show up? Not while the lions are still snapping at the psalmist, nor while the Psalmist is overwhelmed with the injustice of it all. Maybe, God waits in the dark with us until we all calm down and see each other clearly. Maybe, God waits until we can all say with the Psalmist, “Be exalted, O God, above the heavens. Let your glory be over all the earth.”
Let us pray:
God fill me with your Holy spirit. I receive your mercy and release my worry. You can always pick different words for your breath prayer. But the idea of a breath prayer is to keep it simple so I encourage you to simply find one word for each inhale and one word for each exhale.
Ok, everyone take a deep breath. Breath in. Breath out. Breath in. Breath out. Repeat as needed.
Sources and notes:
“Although the NRSV obscures it, the psalm begins with the same petition as does Psalm 56 (see also Pss 4:1; 6:2); even more quickly than Psalm 56, Psalm 57 moves to an expression of trust.” NIB p. 461
“The suppliant speaks as one already in the sanctuary, under the protection of God (v.2), who is prepared to give thanksgiving-praise to God among the peoples and nations (v.10) and to affirm that the loyal-love of God is as great as the heavens (v.11). As in 56, the psalm stops the action, as it were, between the lament proper (vv 2-5) and the full thanksgiving which looks back on the conditions of lament that are safely past. The speaker is ready to give thankful praise, in fact vows to do so, but the situation has not yet been changed from one of lament to praise.” WBC p. 75
“Ps 57 begins with a traditional prayer for mercy in v 2 and moves quickly to assurance of God’s response in vv 3-4. The center section of the psalm is marked by the two selah‘s: the first, at the end of 4b, severs to intensify the statement in 4c; the second is at the end of v 7, following the emphatic “they will fall in it!” Vv 8-11 contain energetic statements of confidence and a vow to praise God, whose loyal-love and faithfulness tower up to the heavens (v 11). V 12 repeats the refrain in v 6 to close the psalm.” WBC p. 76
“The suppliant asks God for a merciful response, because he/she has taken refuge under the protective care of God. …. The prayer is designed to put a cabin on God to protect the one who has taken asylum under the divine protection. The reference to “the shadow of your wings” probably represents more than a mere metaphorical reference to the protective care of God (see Pss 17:8; 36:8; 63:8; also see 61:5; 91:1, 4). The metaphor certainly suggests the protective care of a bird for its young (note Deut 32:10-11), under whose wings the young seek refuge when danger threatens (see Craigie, 292). However, it is very likely that there is a more direct reference to the symbolism o the cherub wings so strongly associated with the temple in Jerusalem (see 1 Kgs 6:23-28; 8:6-7).” WBC p. 77
“Perhaps, the divine attendants should be personified here as Loyal-Love and Faithfulness ( or Truth).” WBC p. 78
“The lying down suggests something like an accused person who flees to the sanctuary of Yahweh in order to be tested and freed from the charges and attacks of accusers, perhaps spending the night with the accusers and waiting for some kind of divine verdict with the coming of the dawn (so H. Schmidt; similarly Kraus, Beryerlin).” WBC p. 78
“… the prayer expresses the desire for a saving manifestation of glory and power of the divine presence in the heavens and over the earth.” WBC p. 79
“… the love of God is the most powerful force in the universe. The enemies may attempt to enact their purposes, which include opposition to the psalmist, but God’s purposes will prevail.” NIB p. 461
“Thus the speaker’s “glory” is a sense of personal worth and ability to praise God.” WBC p. 79
“In short, as always the case in the psalter and in Scripture as a whole, the sovereignty of God is asserted amid opposition. …. In the midst of opposition, the psalmist takes a stand with God.” NIB p. 461
“The Divine mercy and truth are so extensive as to be a connecting link between heaven and earth, and all mankind should unite in praise of God in recognition of the blessing” (Cohen, 182).” WBCp. 80
“A final petition (57:12). This verse repeats v 6 (except that there is no article on “heavens,” as in v 6) and may be intended as the response of the hearer/reader of the psalm, who is urged to join with the suppliant’s prayer in v 6 for a theophanic manifestation of the glory of God. If this is correct, the suppliant’s prayer ends with v 11; v 12 is the reader’s prayer. Vv11 and 12 combine to plead with God to manifest over heaven and earth his loyal-love and faithfulness, which tower up to the heavens in their greatness (cf. Isa 6:1; see O. Keel, The Symbolism of the Biblical Words, 171-172; Dahood, II, 53).” WBC p. 80
“Indeed, the simultaneity of possession and expectation creates the possibility for Christians to be realistic about the world without becoming totally pessimistic. Because we trust that God ultimately rules the world and that God’s purposes for us will finally be fulfilled (vv. 2-3,5, 10-11), we dare to perceive the mystery of love where others can see only the misery of life. Because we trust that love is the basic reality in the universe, we are able in the face of evil, sin, and death not just to sigh resignedly but to sing rousingly enough to wake the dawn.” NIB p. 462
“Ps 57 is regularly used in some Christian churches on Easter morning, and it is appropriate for such use. The Easter period is one in which we celebrate the message: “Christ the Lord is risen today!” and because of this we are “strengthened with all power, according to his [God’s] glorious might” and we are delivered from “the dominion of darkness and transferred…to the kingdom of the beloved Son” (Col 1:8-11, RSV). But we also wait with expectancy for the great dawn when the fullness of God’s glory will be so manifest on the earth that “all flesh shall see it together” (Isa 40:5) and acknowledge that “ever knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil 2:10-11, RSV; cf. also 1 Pet 5:8). Let us join with ancient suppliants in praying that God will rise up in glory over the heavens and the earth. As with the speaker in Ps 57, we can hardly wait to start the celebration. Indeed, we are already singing.” WBC p. 81
WBC Allen, Leslie C. 1983. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 101-150. Vol. 21. Waco, TX: Word Books, Publisher.
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. 1974. Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. 8th ed. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Press.
Brueggemann, Walter. 2007. Praying the Psalms: Engaging Scripture and the Life of the Spirit. 2nd ed. Eugene, OR: Cascade.
Brueggemann Brueggemann, Walter. 2014. From Whom No Secrets Are Hid: Introducing the Psalms. Edited by Brent A. Strawn. 1st ed. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
WBC Craigie, Peter C. 1983. Psalms 1-50–Word Biblical Commentary. Vol. 19. Waco, TX: Word Books.
Creach, Jerome Frederick Davis. 1998. Psalms: Interpretation Bible Studies. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
NIB Keck, Leander E. 2015. The New Interpreters Bible Commentary. Vol. 3. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press.
Mays Mays, James Luther. 1994. Psalms. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press.
Miller Miller, Patrick D. 1986. Interpreting the Psalms. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press.
WBC Tate, Marvin E. 1990. Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 51-100. Edited by David Allan. Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker. Vol. 20. Waco, TX: Word.
OTL Weiser, Artur. 1998. Old Testament Library: Psalms. Translated by Herbert Hartwell. 3rd ed. New York, NY: Manchester University Press.
Other Year D Psalm blog posts:
I’m attempting a series exploring the Psalms in year D. Many churches use the revised common lectionary that rotates scripture on a three-year cycle (A, B, and C). Year D was created with the goal of including scriptures that were left out or not used as frequently as others.
I began this series in Lent 2020. These blog posts include examples of meditation or spiritual discipline or mindfulness exercises. Here are the links: Ash Wednesday: Psalm 102; 1st Sunday in Lent: Psalm 6; 2nd Sunday in Lent: Psalm 143; 3rd Sunday in Lent: Psalm 38; 4th Sunday in Lent: Psalm 39; 5th Sunday in Lent: Psalm 101; 6th Sunday in Lent Psalm 94 or Psalm 35. I went a different direction during Holy Week and dropped the Psalms for a while, but I’m hoping to pick them back up again.
I’m going to try to move forward with the Psalms so that it might be useful for worship in the coming weeks and hoping that I can also go back and pick up some of the ones I missed.
The Season of Easter: Resurrection of the Lord (Easter) Psalm 71:15-24 or Psalm 75 or Psalm 76, 2nd Sunday in Easter Psalm 64 or Psalm 119:73-96, 3rd Sunday in Easter Psalm 60 or 108, 4th Sunday in Easter Psalm 10, 5th Sunday in Easter Psalm 49: (1-12) 13-20, 6thSunday in Easter Psalm 129, Ascension Thursday Psalm 119:145-176, 7th Sunday in Easter Psalm 115, and Pentecost Sunday Psalm 119:113-136.
Then we move into “ordinary time” which is broken up into sections throughout the liturgical year. Remember that the year starts with Advent (I started this adventure in Lent) so some of the ordinary Sundays have already happened.
Trinity -Ordinary Time- Christ the King: Trinity Sunday Psalm 35, 9th Sunday in Ordinary time Psalm 142, 10th Sunday in Ordinary time Psalm 74, 11th Sunday Psalm 7, 12th Sunday Psalm 55, 13th Sunday Psalm 56, and 14th Sunday Psalm 57 or Psalm 3.