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 :
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.
Psalm 83 is in the Psalter as the prayer of God’s people whose existence is for the bringing about the kin-dom of God by making the world a better place, and who leave the vengeance to God. The integrity of a prayer like this is in the integrity of the lives of those who pray this prayer. This prayer isn’t for self-serving ideologies, but for those who are truly living and working for the glory of God. We are God’s beloved, but we sometimes fall short of bringing God glory even when we are trying our best. Sometimes we actively sin and work against the will of God. Our judgement is not perfect, so we shouldn’t be in the business of vengeance. We can leave that in God’s loving hands and she can have the final say.
We are bombarded with the message that we are living in unprecedented times, but what is not unprecedented is hope. The Psalms reminds us that the people of God have suffered, cried, and called on God in prayer. They had hope in God’s powerful acts of intervention and deliverance in the past, and we can share in that hope. Hope that has a precedent.
As people of God, surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, I believe we are able to work for justice and peace with integrity. We can look at our past and know that vengeance causes nothing but grief, and we can take our righteous anger to God in protests and prayers. We can have hope.
According to Nadia Bolts-Weber, “It is a hope that is worn smooth by the tears and prayers and struggle of our ancestors in faith” (Nadia Boltz-Weber, “Unprecedented Hope” Summer Youth Institute at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary July 21, 2020). It isn’t our individual hope, it has been already established in those who came before us; the great cloud of witnesses. “Those who have come before us have already lived through pandemics, and social upheaval, and loss and grief and death and labor pains and struggle, we are never alone in our struggles when we think of it like that” (Nadia again, I’m so glad her presentation was recorded and I can watch it over and over again).
We can continue to wear smooth with our tears and prayers the hope that we share with those who travel the way with us, and for those who will travel this way after us. The people of God are never alone. We have hope. Amen.
Let us pray:
God fill me with your Holy spirit. I receive your grace and release my vindictiveness. (Doesn’t that work make you want to spit?) 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:
“The psalm is composed simply of petitions and a description of the trouble that is the occasion of the petitions. It opens with the threefold plea that God not be uninvolved in the present crisis (v.1). Then the crisis is sketched. The description reports to God what his enemies are doing (vv. 2-5) and who they are (vv. 6-8). God must not remain inactive, because his enemies are astir, preparing an assault against his people, and the enemies are many. A series of petitions calls for the divine action that will resolve the crisis. The first set calls on God to do now what he had done in comparable situations in the past (vv. 9-12). The second set appeals for a divine victory portrayed in similes of destruction (vv. 13-14), motifs of the divine warrior’s power as storm-god (v. 15), and images of defeat (vv. 16-17). The concluding and climatic petition says what the victory will mean. By it, God will make known that the One whose name is the LORD is the Most High over all the earth (v. 18).” Mays pp.271-272
“The list of nations and peoples in verses 6-8 calls the roll of a covenant league of enemies united against Israel (v. 5). Giving names to enemies is not the usual practice in psalmic prayer. The list is made up of small states and tribal groups on the boundaries of Israel and concludes with the great imperial state of Assyria. …. The roll call is more likely a summarizing combination of names for liturgical purposes than historical data. To speak of a typical and recurring crisis that belongs to Israel’s history, the danger of being overrun and wiped out by other peoples, is poetic rhetoric. Portrayal of enemies seething in tumult (v. 2) and plotting together against the LORD’s people (v. 3) is quite similar to the description of general hostility with which Psalm 2 begins (2:1-3).” Mays p. 272
“To be sure, the prayer for deliverance from violent oppressors uses the language and imagery of violence. This in itself constitutes a valuable lesson, for it illustrates how persons are likely to respond when they have been victimized (see vv. 4, 12; see also reflections on Psalms 109; 137). Verses 16 and 18 suggest, however that the violent imagery is hyperbolic and that the real desire of God’s people and God’s own self is to enact God’s reign of righteousness and justice. This is especially the case when Psalm 83 is heard in conjunction with Psalm 82. But as Psalm 82 also recognizes, God’s will for justice and righteousness does not go unopposed.” NIB p. 533
“The prayer recalls what God had done in the past when other generals and rulers planned to take possession of “the pastures of God” (vv. 9-12; the literary record of the recollection appears in Judges 4-8).” Mays p. 272
“Talk about the “enemies of God” belongs to the vision of the LORD as the divine warrior who wins the battle of creation against the primeval forces of chaos and the battle of salvation to deliver his people. The extra-psalmic sources for this vocabulary are Exodus 15 and Deuteronomy 32. In the Psalms, see 66:3; 68:1, 21; 74:4, 18, 23; and 89:10. In all these contexts, the theological issue is the vindication of the LORD as sovereign of the universe and earth. It is of course venturesome and dangerous of the people of God to see those who threaten them as the enemies of God and to invoke God’s vengeance against them. Such prayers can easily become the language of a self-serving, blind ideology. The prophets instantly remind Israel that they could and did become the ones who obstructed the coming of God’s kingdom in the world. The integrity of such a prayer of Israel depended on the integrity of their life as the people of the LORD.” Mays p. 273
“Here the power and the grace of God have the final say and not human vindictiveness.” OTL p. 564
“The psalm reminds us that the greatest resource of the people of Yahweh is prayer, which appeals both directly to him and is based on his powerful acts of intervention and deliverance in the past. ” WBC p. 349
“the contemporary world is hardly less inclined to violence than was the ancient world or more inclined to enact God’s will for justice, righteousness, and peace.” NIB p. 533
“Psalm 83 is in the Psalter as the prayer of his people whose existence is the work of his reign and who leave the vengeance to God (see Psalm 94).” Mayes p. 273
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.
The Apocalyptic Discourse 15th -19th Sundays in Ordinary time: 15th Sunday Psalm 17:8-14(15) or Psalm 83, 16th Sunday Psalm 54, 17th Sunday Psalm 50 or Psalm 105, 18thSunday Psalm 59, and 19th Sunday Psalm 37.