Psalms for worship 3 ... Psalms for the Day from Psalms 41 - 70 The Book of Psalms contains...

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Transcript of Psalms for worship 3 ... Psalms for the Day from Psalms 41 - 70 The Book of Psalms contains...

  • THE PSALMS – for WORSHIP Psalms for the Day from Psalms 41 - 70

    The Book of Psalms contains wonderful prayers, exalted poems of praise, and deep expressions of longing and distress. No wonder these songs have been included in worship; they give us the words we need as we come into the presence of God. However, usually these psalms are not treated like the other Readings in our worship. The congregation doesn’t just hear the psalm; they take part in an antiphonally reading of it. So the ‘I’ in the psalm now becomes me. The ‘we’ becomes our congregation. The ‘people of God’ becomes the church. The ‘Lord God’ becomes the Triune God as revealed by Jesus. Because these psalms are used this way by a New Testament Christian congregation, I'm presented with some problems. But I don’t want these problems to stop me using these wonderful psalms. I want to be able to get fully involved with them antiphonally. I want them to be my psalms. That’s why I’ve written the following adaptions of them. In doing this I have been mindful of: The antiphonal construction. I’ve taken pains to maintain the parallel repetition that’s such an important part of the poetry of these songs, allowing the psalms to be spoken antiphonally. This allows the pastor and congrega- tion to present the message of the psalm together and to each other. It allows us to proclaim the faith we share. The language and verbal images. It’s difficult to make a psalm mine when it uses words I don’t understand, or images that have no real connection to me. What’s more, I need to understand all this as I’m reading it, right there in the worship service. Although thinking about the meaning of the psalm later might help me next time it crops up in worship. But that doesn’t help to make it a vital part of my worship this time. So I’ve tried to make the language and the images of the psalms relevant to life now. Whether I‘ve done that well, is, of course, another matter. The emotion in the psalm It can be difficult to make a psalm mine when it's expressing a pain, a sorrow, a joyful praise, a confident faith, or some other emotion, that I’m not feeling at the moment. Now, I don’t want to ignore that psalm just because the writer is going through a crisis, a high point, or a life changing moment that’s outside of my experience at the moment. Nor do I want to force other worshippers to take on their lips emotions that they can’t relate to in that time of worship. So for a psalm like that I’ve given a second version called Interacting with the psalm. I’ve adapted the psalm by letting the pastor present its message. He in effect becomes the psalm writer. The congregation’s lines allow them to react to the emotion or the faith expressed in the psalm, as they try to understand it or take it in. Doing that may allow the congregation to discover that perhaps the psalm does speak to them. The setting of the psalm. Some psalms are embedded in a particular event or situation (like the enthronement of a king), or in an Old Testament Jewish practice (like animal sacrifice), or a belief (like God’s permanent choice of them as a nation). These settings for psalms don’t apply in our New Testament faith. So, if I’m going to use these Old Testament psalms they require a re-interpretation that moves them into the closest New Testament setting. The traditional solution of just tacking on the Glory to the Father, and the Son . . . does not, it seems to me, move the psalm into the setting of New Testament faith. I’ve included brief introductory comments for some of the psalms to explain a little about why and how I believe they can be re-interpreted. So that these psalms can be used in personal mediation and prayer, I have made some further minor adaptions to take them out of their worship setting. I have called that series The Psalms for meditation.

    Neil Stiller (www.stillersite.wordpress.com)

    2016 (Revised July 2019)

    (I imagine revisions will appear every now and then

    as ‘field-testing’ demands changes, and as folk like you give me the gift of your

    criticism and suggestions.)

    I guess I should consider the possibility that you may want to use these versions of the psalms in your worship services. Let me assure you that’s fine with me. Go ahead. You may want me to suggest some words of acknowledgement. So how about: This version of the psalm by Neil Stiller, 2016 – www.stillersite.wordpress.com.

    http://www.stillersite.wordpress.com)

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    41 PSALM 41 WHEN SICKNESS COMES P: Congratulations to those who care for the poor and weak; C: the Lord will rescue them when they’re in trouble. P: The Lord will protect them and keep them going; C: and everyone will regard them highly. P: The Lord will be there for them when they’re sick, C: and restore them to health. P: I said, ‘Lord, have mercy on me; C: I’ve sinned against you. But please heal me.’ P: There are some who hate and sneer at me; C: they can’t wait for me to die and be forgotten. P: They visit me, but they don’t mean what they say; C: they put a negative spin on whatever I say, and that’s what they tell everyone. P: They mutter about me to each other, C: and imagine the worst that could happen. P: ‘He’s got this terrible disease,’ they whisper; C: ‘he’s never going to leave hospital.’ P: Even my best friend, the one I trusted above all, has left me high and dry. C: The one to whom I told my inmost thoughts has turned against me. P: But you, my Lord, please have mercy on me; C: restore me to health and strength – that’ll put them in their place! P: They haven’t got the better of me yet; C: and I take that as a sign that you haven’t abandoned me. P: You’ll help me because I’m innocent of their accusations; C: and you’ve given me a place in your presence forever. P: Praise the Lord, all you his people. C: Praise him forever. All: Amen and Amen!

    Interacting with the psalm (P facing cong) P: Congratulations to those who care for the poor and weak; the Lord will rescue them

    when they’re in trouble. C: It’s good to know that showing love has some benefits. P: The Lord will protect them and keep them going, and everyone will regard them highly. C: I don’t know if that happens all that often. P: The Lord will be there for them when they’re sick, and restore them to health. C: You sound very sure of that. P: Let me tell you what happened to me when I was sick. I asked the Lord for mercy, for

    his forgiveness – and for healing. C: And he did it for you? P: Well, it wasn’t as simple as that. You see, there were some who hated me, who

    sneered at me; and couldn’t wait for me to die and be forgotten. C: They were really as bad as that? P: They’d visit me, but they didn’t mean what they said. They’d put a negative spin on

    whatever I’d say, and then tell everyone what I was supposed to have said. C: That IS a bit nasty. P: They’d mutter about me to each other, and imagine the worst that could happen.

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    C: Are you sure about this? P: ‘He’s got this terrible disease,’ they’d whisper, ‘he’s never going to leave hospital.’ C: And it was all untrue? P: Even my best friend, the one I trusted above all, the one I told my inmost thoughts,

    turned against me. C: That must have been hard. P: So I prayed passionately to God. C: Good. P: I asked him for mercy, to restore me to health and strength. That would put my so-

    called friends in their place! C: That was part of your prayer? P: Of course. I reckoned they hadn’t got the better of me yet, so I took that as a sign that

    at least God hadn’t abandoned me. C: I suppose that was good thinking. P: I asked God to help me because I was innocent of their accusations, and because of his

    promises to give me a place in his presence forever. C: And then he healed you? P: Yes. So join me in praising the Lord, all you his people. C: We praise him now and forever. Amen.

    ____________________________

    42 - 43 PSALM 42-43 THE PRAYER OF ONE IN DISTRESS P: As a deer longs for a drink from a cool stream, C: that’s how I long for you, my God. P: I thirst for you, my living God – C: when can I get back to being in your presence in worship? P: Tears have been my only food day and night, C: while I’m taunted with the question: ‘So where’s this God of yours?’ P: It breaks my heart to remember the good times: C: There I was in the great crowd on the way to worship you. P: I even led the procession into your house of worship, C: We were a jubilant crowd, singing and shouting praise to you.

    P: Why am I so far down in the dumps? C: Why so heavy-hearted and sad? P: I can’t let this go on. I‘ll place my hope in God! C: And once again I’ll praise him, my Saviour and my God.

    P: When I’m so depressed I make myself remember you, C: I recall all the rescues and victories you’ve given to your people. P: But those memories only become waves that swamped me, C: reminding me of what could be, and of what I’m missing. P: If only a sense of your constant love would fill my days; C: and song-filled prayers to you, the God of my life, would fill my nights. P: I keep on asking you, my God, my protector, ‘Why have you forgotten me? C: Why must I go on suffering this grief from those who ill-treat me?’ P: I feel crushed in body and spirit as they taunt me, C: always demanding: ‘Where’s your God, where’s your God?’

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    P: Why am I so far down in the dumps? C: Why so heavy-hearted and sad?