Psalm 140

Psalm 140

“…violence is not just a problem for and with other people; it is a problem for and with all of us.” New Interpreters Bible Commentary p. 699

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.


“…violence is not just a problem for and with other people; it is a problem for and with all of us.” New Interpreters Bible Commentary p. 699

There is evil in our hearts, poison on our lips, and treachery in all of our plans. The violence is all around us and the violence is within us. Lord, save us from ourselves.

Lord, save me from myself. The evil in my heart cries, I am not the oppressor. The poison on my lips spits, I am not a racist. And the treachery in my plans claims, I am not the oppressor, even as I stand in power and privilege. I love the proud voice in my head, and I am drawn to the evil it speaks. I lie to myself that I am like the Psalmist because comforting lies are easier to swallow than the hard truth that I am not oppressed or poor or needy. Lord, save me from my enemy, save me from myself.

In the midst of all of this evil, hate, and violence, in this unprecedented time, I do have something that has a precedence, hope. Hope that nothing can separate me from the love of God, not violence, not hate, not evil, not fear. I have hope that God is still at work within the world however broken it may appear. Hope that the God who was with our ancestors in faith is with us today. Hope that God can redeem a broken mess that is me and hope that God can redeem the broken mess that is us. Hope that God’s justice will be the law of the land and all of us will dwell together in peace.

I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor and upholds the cause of the needy (verse 12). And I know that if I hope to be part of God’s work in the world, I am called to do the same. With God’s help, I am called to show a bias towards the poor and to fulfill the needs of all of my beloved neighbors. There can not be other people and other people’s problems, there can only be us and our solutions.

Lord, save me from myself.

Surely the righteous will praise your name, and the upright will live in your presence (verse 13).

I want to stand in God’s presence and live.

Let us pray:

God fill me with your Holy spirit. I receive your justice and release my violence. 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.

Hymn #434 Today we all are called to be Disciples

Today we are all called to be Disciples of the Lord, To help to set the captives free, Make plow-share out of sword, To feed the hungry, quench their thirst, Make love and peace our fast, To serve the poor and homeless first, Our ease and comfort last.
God made the world and at its birth Ordained our human race To live as stewards of the earth, Responding to God’s grace. But we are vain and sadly proud,We sow not peace but strife, Our discord spreads a deadly cloud That threatens all of life.
Pray justice may come rolling down As in a mighty stream, With righteousness in field and town To cleanse us and redeem. For God is longing to restore An earth where conflicts cease, A world that was created for A harmony of peace.
May we in service to our God Act out the living word, And walk the road the saints have trod Till all have seen and heard. As stewards of the earth may we Give thanks in one accord To God who calls us all to be Disciples of the Lord.

Sources and notes:

“The basic theology is stated in verse 12: The LORD preserves justice for the poor and need. The prayer is an appeal to God as the judge whose justice protects the weak from the violent.” Mays p. 430

“At the heart of the piece, in vv 7-8, the psalmist speaks of his personal faith. He recalls the ties of devoted submission that link him with his Lord. He can praise him for saving help in the past, looking back to times of danger when he was protected.” WBC p. 268

“The psalm closes with a note of conviction akin to that of vv 7-8. Now the concept of divine aid is given a future orientation. With confidence in a God who rights wrongs, the speaker looks forward to a time that will surely come, a time when the righteous, so often synonymous with the afflicted, will have cause to thank their divine champion in glad testimony to his saving grace.” WBC p. 268

NIB: Maybe we haven’t experienced this kind of violence so we should pray this prayer for others who have. Maybe we are violent and need to be delivered from ourselves.

“Psalm 140 forces us to consider that all of us are victimizers. For instance, most contemporary persons give at least implicit approval to a culture that all but glorifies violence. Even children watch violence daily on television, and violence is a staple part of adult entertainment. When we seek solutions to domestic and international problems, those solutions frequently amount to fitting violence with violence. In short, violence is not just a problem for and with other people; it is a problem for and with all of us.” NIB p. 699

“Psalm 140 is ultimately a reminder that, as people of God, we profess that the true real world is the world of God’s reign (vv. 6-7), and it is a confirmation of the faithfulness of the contemporary slogan “If you want peace, work for justice.” Violence will ever effectively be fought with violence. It will only effectively be answered with the justice that God wills and works to enact (see vv. 12-13).” NIB p. 669

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.

Spong Spong, M. (Ed.). (2020). The words of her mouth: Psalms for the struggle. Cleveland, OH: The Pilgrim 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.

Prelude to the Passion 20th -23rd Sundays in Ordinary time: 20th Sunday Psalm 58, 21st Sunday Psalm 140, 22nd Sunday Psalm 68 or Psalm 120 or Psalm 82, and 23rd Sunday Psalm 141.

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