For the love of God, can I get a simple Psalm of praise? Unfortunately, lectionary year D delivers another psalm that requires a little wrestling, but it’s always worth the work. Love is always worth the work.
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.
Sometimes it feels like a dog eat dog kind of world. And while I fear being eaten, I also fear being the one who is hungry enough to bite. For some reason this psalm brings to my heart the idea of loving enemies and praying for those who persecute you. Maybe I have a soft spot for mongrels. Maybe it’s because I know that frightened dogs growl and snap. Maybe it’s because I know my own rescue pup has nightmares that frighten me awake in the middle of the night. I wake her up to remind us both that we are safe. Maybe it’s because when I take my refuge in God, I am surrounded by love, and I have compassion for those who don’t know this kind of love.
The last word of the psalm is love, the loyal-love of a steadfast God. I want love to always be the last word. The last word I share with friends. The last word I share with family. And even, the last word I share with those who seek to do me harm. Love.
Let us pray:
God fill me with your Holy spirit. I receive your love and release my fear. 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:
Psalm 59 is an individual praying on behalf of the community.
“petition (vv. 1-2, 4b-5, 11-13), description of trouble (vv. 3a, 6-7, 14-15), profession of innocence (vv. 3b-4a) and of trust (vv. 8-10), and promises of praise (vv. 16-17). The whole is divided into two parts by a set of repetitions that function in a refrain-like manner at the conclusion of each part. Each set is composed of a characterization of the adversaries as wild dogs (vv. 6-7 and 14-15), followed by assertions trust (vv. 8 and 16) and promises of praise (vv. 9-10 and 17). Verses 6 and 14 and verses 9 and 17 are exact equivalents.” Mays p. 213
“Unfortunately we can no longer grasp clearly the significance of ht comparison of the enemies with the half-wild dogs which prowl about the streets of the city in their search for food (v. 15); we are hardly justified in thinking of a siege by enemies; the comparison seems rather to be designed to make the savagery and greed inherent in the attacks of the plot’s adversaries to which he is exposed afresh day by day. He is obviously afraid that he will fall a victim to their biting words and their venomous calumnies and curses (cf. v. 12) unless God intervenes and puts an end to their presumption, their imagining that they will remain unnoticed by God.  However, the worshipper conquers this fear by his hope in God, who will set his own ‘derision’ over against the blasphemous mockery o fate wicked and will be the one who will ‘laugh’ last.” OTL p. 435
“God is to intervene in a way that has a twofold result. First, the punishment is to be extended over a period of time so that the community will realize that God is at work and not “forget” God (v. 11). Second, God’s intervention is to be a revelation to the ends of the earth that God is ruler in and over Israel (v. 13).” Mays p. 213
“The last thought is not quite free of a certain gloating (cf. Pss. 54.7; 112.8; 118.7); v. 13, however, shows that joy in the manifestation of the power of God prevails over that human weakness.” OTL p. 436
“The enemies are described as being like howling dogs which prowl about at night, slavering at the mouth, growling and biting as if they had swords for teeth. Dogs were not always considered bad in the ancient world. Sometimes they were highly valued, even worshiped, and kept as companions (note that dog which follows Tobias in Tob 5:16; 11:14). The little dogs that ate the “crumbs that fall from their master’s table” are likely to have been pets (Matt 15:27; Mark 7:28). More commonly, however, references to dogs are contentious or express self-basement (1 Sam 17:43; 2 Sam 9:8) or distain for others. …. “Dog” is used to designate the wicked in Isa 56:10-11 (also, see Phil 3:2; Rev 22:15). In Deut 23:19 (18) the term “hire of a dog” is commonly taken to refer to deny gained fro male prostitution. As in Ps 22:16, the “dogs” in Ps 59 refer to enemies, who pose a threat to the communities they invade.” WBC p. 97 Verses 15-16 repeat the description in verses 7-8 but with a small variation in verse 16. “There is a possibility that v 16 should be read ironically; i.e., though the dogs prowl about unpleasantly, they roam about unsatisfied– able only to growl and whine! …. In this case, the dangerous dogs of v 8 only whine for food in v 16.” WBC p. 98
“The prayer seems to express the anxieties and needs of the post exilic religious community seeking to maintain its trust in the face of surrounding nations whose cultures and religions are viewed as hostile to the community’s faith. The prayer is the voice of the congregation that has no refuge in the midst of history other than the LORD of hosts. The scholarly scribe who completed the title found a clue to the psalm’s setting in the sort of David (1 Sam. 19:11).” Mays p. 213
“Morning likely reflects both cultic and metaphorical meaning. The morning was the time when prophets preached their messages and priests gave oracles, a time of sacrifice and rites of worship. Metaphorically, the morning was the time when night and watching and waiting were over and a new day was at hand.” WBC p. 98
“The content of the psalm reminds us that we have not excepted the problem of enemies and their evil work in human society. The “dogs” prowl about in our communities and towns as they did in the ancient world–“dogs” which embody the devouring malignant persons and forces in human affairs.” WBC p. 99
“The enemies are dealt with in the context of faith in Yahweh’s supreme judgeship and the refuge and “bulwark” which he provides for those who put their faith in him. Ps 59 points to trust in the saving power of God, whose laughter and derision (v 9) are more than a match for the evildoers who, like hungry dogs, prey on people.” WBC p. 99
The last word of Ps 59 is “loyal-love” WBC p. 99
“In short, Psalm 59, like Psalms 2 and 56-58 and the whole psalter, is eschatological. It affirms the reign of God amid circumstances that seem to deny it; thus it calls us to decision, as Jesus did. Confronted by “the mighty” (v. 3) of the so-called real world, we profess to find true strength in God. Faced by the seemingly overwhelming forces of evil, we profess to be met by a God who comes to us in love. Tempted by a dog-eat-dog world to join those who live only for themselves and by their own resources, we profess to find a “fortress” in God, and we yield our lives to God in grateful praise (vv. 16-17). ” NIB p. 468
A Mighty Fortress is Our God #260 Blue Presbyterian Hymnal
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.
McCann, J. C., & Howell, J. C. 2001. Preaching the Psalms. Nashville, TN: Abingdon 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, 6th Sunday 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, 18th Sunday Psalm 59, and 19th Sunday Psalm 37.