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Once War Songs, Now Pious Prayers

Scroll of the Psalms

The Book of Psalms.
Vol. 44, pp. 318-327 of The Harvard Classics

The Psalms have been an inspiration to men in many ages. They have become so associated with the peaceful spirit of Christianity that we forget some of them were once war songs and songs of triumph.

Book V
An Experience of the Captivity

BY the rivers of Babylon,
There we sat down, yea, we wept,
When we remembered Zion.
Upon the willows in the midst thereof
We hanged up our harps.
For there they that led us captive required of us songs, 1
And they 2 that wasted us required of us mirth, saying,
Sing us one of the songs of Zion.
How shall we sing Jehovah’s song
In a foreign land?
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget her skill.
Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,
If I remember thee not;
If I prefer not Jerusalem
Above my chief joy.
Remember, O Jehovah, against the children of Edom
The day of Jerusalem;
Who said, Rase it, rase it,
Even to the foundation thereof.
O daughter of Babylon, that 3 art to be destroyed,
Happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee
As thou hast served us.
Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones
Against the rock.

Note 1. Heb. words of song. 
Note 2. Or, our tormentors. 
Note 3. Or, that art laid waste. 

Thanksgiving for Jehovah’s Favor

A Psalm of David.

WILL give thee thanks with my whole heart:
Before the gods will I sing praises unto thee.
I will worship toward thy holy temple,
And give thanks unto thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth:
For thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.
In the day that I called thou answeredst me,
Thou didst encourage me with strength in my soul.
All the kings of the earth shall give thee thanks, O Jehovah,
For they have heard the words of thy mouth.
Yea, they shall sing of the ways of Jehovah;
For great is the glory of Jehovah.
For though Jehovah is high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly;
But the haughty he knoweth from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me;
Thou wilt stretch forth thy hand against the wrath of mine enemies,
And thy right hand will save me.
Jehovah will perfect that which concerneth me:
Thy lovingkindness, O Jehovah, endureth for ever;
Forsake not the works of thine own hands.

God’s Omnipresence and Omniscience

For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

O JEHOVAH, thou hast searched me, and known me,
Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising;
Thou understandest my thought afar off.
Thou searchest 1 out my path and my lying down,
And art acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word in my tongue,
But, lo, O Jehovah, thou knowest it altogether.
Thou hast beset me behind and before,
And laid thy hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain unto it.
Whither shall I go from thy Spirit?
Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?
If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there:
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, thou art there.
If I take the wings of the morning,
And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea;
Even there shall thy hand lead me,
And thy right hand shall hold me.
If I say, Surely the darkness shall overwhelm 2 me,
And 3 the light about me shall be night;
Even the darkness hideth not from thee,
But the night shineth as the day:
The darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
For thou didst form my inward 4 parts:
Thou didst cover 5 me in my mother’s womb.
I will give thanks unto thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:
Wonderful are thy works;
And that my soul knoweth right well.
My frame was not hidden from thee,
When I was made in secret,
And curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance;
And in thy book they were all written,
Even the days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was none of them.
How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand:
When I awake, I am still with thee.
Surely 6 thou wilt slay the wicked, O God:
Depart from me therefore, ye bloodthirsty men.
For they speak 7 against thee wickedly,
And thine enemies take 8 thy name in vain.
Do not I hate them, O Jehovah, that hate thee?
And am 9 not I grieved with those that rise up against thee?
I hate them with perfect hatred:
They are become mine enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my heart:
Try me, and know my thoughts;
And see if there be any wicked 10 way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.

Note 1. Heb. words of song. 
Note 2. Or, cover. 
Note 3. Or, Then the night shall be light about me. 
Note 4. Heb. reins. 
Note 5. Or, knit me together. 
Note 6. Or, Oh that thou wouldest slay. 
Note 7. Or, utter thy name (Heb. thee) Or, as otherwise read, rebel against thee. 
Note 8. Or, lift themselves up against thee for vanity. 
Note 9. Or, do not I loathe. 
Note 10. Or, way of pain. 

Prayer for Protection Against the Wicked

For The Chief Musician. A Psalm of David.

DELIVER me, O Jehovah, from the evil man;
Preserve me from the violent man:
Who devise mischiefs in their heart;
Continually do they gather 1 themselves together for war.
They have sharpened their tongue like a serpent;
Adders’ poison is under their lips.  [Selah
Keep me, O Jehovah, from the hands of the wicked;
Preserve me from the violent man:
Who have purposed to thrust aside my steps.
The proud have hid a snare for me, and cords;
They have spread a net by the wayside;
They have set gins for me.  [Selah

I said unto Jehovah, Thou art my God:
Give ear unto the voice of my supplications, O Jehovah.
O Jehovah the Lord, the strength of my salvation,
Thou hast covered my head in the day of battle.
Grant not, O Jehovah, the desires of the wicked;
Further not his evil device, lest they exalt themselves.  [Selah
As for the head of those that compass me about,
Let the mischief of their own lips cover them.
Let burning coals fall upon them:
Let them be cast into the fire,
Into deep 2 pits, whence they shall not rise.
An 3 evil speaker shall not be established in the earth:
Evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him.
I know that Jehovah will maintain the cause of the afflicted,
And justice for the needy.
Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name:
The upright shall dwell in thy presence.

Note 1. Or, stir up wars. 
Note 2. Or, floods. 
Note 3. Heb. A man of tongue. 

An Evening Prayer for Sanctification and Protection

A Psalm of David.

JEHOVAH, I have called upon thee; make haste unto me:
Give ear unto my voice, when I call unto thee.
Let my prayer be set forth as incense before thee;
The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. 1
Set a watch, O Jehovah, before my mouth;
Keep the door of my lips.
Incline not my heart to any evil thing,
To practise deeds of wickedness
With men that work iniquity:
And let me not eat of their dainties.
Let the righteous smite me, it shall be a kindness;
And let him reprove me, it shall be as oil upon the head;
Let not my head refuse it:
For even 2 in their wickedness 3 shall my prayer continue.
Their judges are thrown down by the sides of the rock;
And they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.
As when one ploweth and cleaveth the earth,
Our bones are scattered at the mouth of Sheol.
For mine eyes are unto thee, O Jehovah the Lord:
In thee do I take refuge; leave 4 not my soul destitute.
Keep me from the snare which they have laid for me,
And from the gins of the workers of iniquity.
Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
Whilst that I withal escape. 5

Note 1. Or, oblation. 
Note 2. Or, still is my prayer against their wickedness. 
Note 3. Or, calamities. 
Note 4. Or, pour thou not out my life. 
Note 5. Heb. pass over. 

Prayer for Help in Trouble

Maschil of David, when he was in the cave; a Prayer.

CRY with my voice unto Jehovah;
With my voice unto Jehovah do I make supplication.
I pour out my complaint before him;
I show before him my trouble.
When my spirit was 1 overwhelmed within me,
Thou knewest my path.
In the way wherein I walk
Have they hidden a snare for me.
Look on my right hand, and see;
For there is no man that knoweth me:
Refuge hath failed me;
No man careth for my soul.
I cried unto thee, O Jehovah;
I said, Thou art my refuge,
My portion in the land of the living.
Attend unto my cry;
For I am brought very low:
Deliver me from my persecutors;
For they are stronger than I.
Bring my soul out of prison,
That I may give thanks unto thy name:
The righteous shall compass 2 me about;
For thou wilt deal bountifully with me.

Note 1. Or, fainted. 
Note 2. Or, crown themselves because of me. 

Prayer for Deliverance and Guidance

A Psalm of David.

HEAR my prayer, O Jehovah; give ear to my supplications:
In thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness.
And enter not into judgment with thy servant;
For in thy sight no man living is righteous.
For the enemy hath persecuted my soul;
He hath smitten my life down to the ground:
He hath made me to dwell in dark places, as those that have been long dead.
Therefore is 1 my spirit overwhelmed within me;
My heart within me is desolate.
I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all thy doings;
I muse on the work of thy hands.
I spread forth my hands unto thee:
My soul thirsteth after thee, as a weary land.  [Selah
Make haste to answer me, O Jehovah; my spirit faileth:
Hide not thy face from me,
Lest I become like them that go down into the pit.
Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning;
For in thee do I trust:
Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk;
For I lift up my soul unto thee.
Deliver me, O Jehovah, from mine enemies:
2 flee unto thee to hide me.
Teach me to do thy will;
For thou art my God:
Thy 3 Spirit is good;
Lead me in the 4 land of uprightness.
Quicken me, O Jehovah, for thy name’s sake:
In thy righteousness bring my soul out of trouble.
And in thy lovingkindness cut off mine enemies,
And destroy all them that afflict my soul;
For I am thy servant.

Note 1. Or, my spirit fainteth. 
Note 2. Heb. Unto thee have I hidden. 
Note 3. Or, Let thy good Spirit lead me. 
Note 4. Or, a plain country. 

Prayer for Rescue and Prosperity

A Psalm of David.

BLESSED be Jehovah my rock,
Who teacheth my hands to war,
And my fingers to fight:
My lovingkindness, and my fortress,
My high tower, and my deliverer;
My shield, and he in whom I take refuge;
Who subdueth my people under me.
Jehovah, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him?
Or the son of man, that thou makest account of him?
Man is like to vanity: 1
His days are as a shadow that passeth away.
Bow thy heavens, O Jehovah, and come down:
Touch the mountains, and they shall smoke.
Cast forth lightning, and scatter them;
Send out thine arrows, and discomfit them.
Stretch forth thy hand from above;
Rescue me, and deliver me out of great waters,
Out of the hand of aliens;
Whose mouth speaketh deceit,
And whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.
I will sing a new song unto thee, O God:
Upon a psaltery of ten strings will I sing praises unto thee.
Thou art he that giveth salvation unto kings;
Who rescueth David his servant from the hurtful sword.
Rescue me, and deliver me out of the hand of aliens,
Whose mouth speaketh deceit,
And whose right hand is a right hand of falsehood.

When our sons shall be as plants grown up in their youth,
And our daughters as cornerstones hewn after the fashion of a palace;
When our garners are full, affording all manner of store,
And our sheep bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our fields;
When our oxen are well laden;
When there is no breaking in, and no going 2 forth,
And no outcry in our streets:
Happy is the people that is in such a case;
Yea, happy is the people whose God is Jehovah.

Note 1. Heb. a breath. 
Note 2. Or, sallying.

Jehovah Extolled for His Goodness

A Psalm of praise; of David.

WILL extol thee, my God, O King;
And I will bless thy name for ever and ever.
Every day will I bless thee;
And I will praise thy name for ever and ever.
Great is Jehovah, and greatly to be praised;
And his greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall laud thy works to another,
And shall declare thy mighty acts.
Of the glorious majesty of thine honor,
And of thy wondrous works, will I meditate.
And men shall speak of the might of thy terrible acts;
And I will declare thy greatness.
They shall utter the memory of thy great goodness,
And shall sing of thy righteousness.
Jehovah is gracious, and merciful;
Slow to anger, and of great lovingkindness.
Jehovah is good to all;
And his tender mercies are over all his works.
All thy works shall give thanks unto thee, O Jehovah;
And thy saints shall bless thee.
They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom,
And talk of thy power;
To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts,
And the glory of the majesty of his kingdom.
Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And thy dominion endureth throughout all generations.
Jehovah upholdeth all that fall,
And raiseth up all those that are bowed down.
The eyes of all wait for thee;
And thou givest them their food in due season.
Thou openest thy hand,
And satisfiest 1 the desire of every living thing.
Jehovah is righteous in all his ways,
And gracious in all his works.
Jehovah is nigh unto all them that call upon him,
To all that call upon him in truth.
He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him;
He also will hear their cry, and will save them.
Jehovah preserveth all them that love him;
But all the wicked will he destroy.
My mouth shall speak the praise of Jehovah;
And let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever.

Note 1. Or, satisfiest every living thing with favor. 


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