Psalm 54

Psalm 54

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.  

I did a breath prayer video for my friends at Missing Peace.

Reflection:

There is power in names. It is a power to bring about memories and experiences. Saying a name reminds us of the person and what that person’s life was about. Saying the name of a person we grieve for, helps us to keep those memories alive and gives us a purpose for moving forward.

For the psalmist, saying God’s name, or rather, asking for God to save by the power of the name, is about being in God’s presence, and remembering who God is and what God has done, and hoping for what God will do for humanity. Saying God’s name evokes power, gentleness, strength, love, righteousness, justice, peace, majesty, kindness… the list could go on… but the point is that asking for something in the name of God is to evoke God’s presence. And I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want to call upon that kind of power unless I was sure I wanted to see God’s will being done.

When I call on the name of the God about what I see in the social unrest in our country, I expect an outpouring of God’s presence so that God’s justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like and ever-flowing stream (Amos 5:24). I expect to see God working in the world, through all of her people to bring about justice and peace. And I expect, and I hope, to be part of that work.

In the few prayer vigils, demonstrations, and protests I’ve been a part of, I’ve noticed that people around me find power in speaking the names of those who have been victimized by police brutality. Saying the names of these black men and women evokes the loss, pain, and grief, of their friends, families, and communities, but also evokes the wonderful memories and experiences of their lives. Along with that, saying the names reminds all of us that there is still racial justice work to be done. And this work must be intersectional, it must be inclusive of race, sexuality, and gender identity in order for all of those names to move us to bring justice for all.

Often, when we think of police brutality we imagine white male police officers harming black men. What is more often true, is that black women and girls are victims of police violence. Because of this, the African American Policy Forum (AAPF) coined the hashtag #SayHerName in February 2015.

“#SayHerName as a movement is largely based on the concept of intersectionality in order to bring attention to all victims of systemic violence. Intersectionality is a term that [one of the founders of the movement] Kimberlé Crenshaw was responsible for coining, its earliest usage being dated to 1989. Since then it has become a key element of many modern feminist practices.” (Say Her Name movement). (Also see the Say Her Name Report).

Third Church, our mission study reminds us that we are a church that supports women, and our history reminds us that we were an abolitionist church, so as we move into the future, I hope that we can find a way to bring about justice and peace for all of the marginalized people in our society, without leaving anyone outside of our care and concern. And I know that we can do this in the name of God. Blessed be the name of the LORD.

Let us pray:

God fill me with your Holy spirit. I receive your name and release my prejudices. 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:

Say Her Name Report

The African American Policy Forum

Psalm 54 is a typical example of an individual prayer for help. “It begins with a vocative and a tuition to be helped (v. 1) and heard (v. 2). A concise description of trouble (v. 3) supports the petition. Then a declaration of confidence in God (vv. 4-5a) is rounded off with a petition for God to act against the enemy (v. 5b). The prayer concludes with a vow of sacrifice and thanks that makes a transition into the vow of sacrifice and thanks that makes a transition into the praise that will accompany the sacrifice and expresses its meaning as thanksgiving (vv. 6-7).” Mays p. 206

“The petition asks that God save “by your name” and “by your might” (v. 1). The poetic synonymity between the name of God and the might of God shows that the name is understood as the power of the person of God.” Mays p. 206

“The Name carried something of the essential nature and power of God. To invoke his name was to invoke his presence. The Name theology is especially evident in the Deuteronomic wirtings. The Israelites were to worship at the place chosen by Yahweh where he would “put is name”. The use of the Name to protect both the transcendence and presence of Yahweh is especially present in the Solomonic dress to the people and prayer at the dedication of the temple (1 Kgs 8:1-66). Yahweh is repeatedly affirmed to be in heaven, but his powerful presence is invoked because his name is in the temple” WBC p. 47

“The major stress in the psalm is clearly on the powerful and effective Name of Yahweh. Yahweh may seem absent rom the world, but those who invoke his Name with faith and courage will discover the reality of his awesome presence. Those who forget his Name and seek to disregard his will may experience the terrible recoil of their own wickedness, a recoil which is sustained by divine power. The message of the psalm is clear enough: the Name of Yahweh will not fail the suppliant in a time of crisis. The enemies will not prevail. Yahweh will make a necessary connection between act and consequence, and the power of ruthless foes will be turned back against themselves.” WBC p. 49

“The perspective of the Lord’s prayer is eschatological, as is that of Psalm 54– that is, the psalmist prayed and Christians pray in the midst of opposition and suffering. Yet, to affirm that “God is my helper,” entrusting life and future to God, is already to be in touch with the source of enduring life and strength.” NIB p. 455

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.  

Holy Week: Palm Sunday, 6th Sunday in Lent Psalm 94 or Psalm 35, Maundy Thursday Psalm 115 or 113, Good Friday Psalm 88, Holy Saturday (Great Vigil) Psalms 7, 17, 44, 57 or 108, 119:145-176, 149.

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.

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