Meditation 10: Psalm 70 (Wednesday of Holy Week)

Be pleased, O God, to deliver me.
O Lord, make haste to help me!

Let those be put to shame and confusion who seek my life.
Let those be turned back and brought to dishonour
who desire to hurt me.

Let those who say, “Aha, Aha!”
turn back because of their shame.

Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you.
Let those who love your salvation
say evermore, “God is great!”

But I am poor and needy;
hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O Lord, do not delay!

Psalm 70

In contrast to yesterday’s psalm (Ps. 71) we are confronted with a sense of urgency: Be pleased, O God, to deliver me. O Lord, make haste to help me.

Psalm 70 is a short prayer for deliverance placed between two much longer laments.

The abrupt way in which Psalm 70 ends suggests a pressing request for the resolution of an apparently insoluble problem, a resolution that will be found by waiting on the Lord.

In its brevity it is easy to observe a clear literary structure.

There is a plea to hurry (verse 1), a reflection on the world as it is (verses 2-3), a reflection on the world as it should be (verse 4), then a return to a brief consideration on the world as it is (verse 5a), all rounded off with a repeated plea to hurry (verse 5b).

As the narrative of Holy Week unfolds, the Church’s lectionary brings us to the moment when Jesus foretells his betrayal (John 13.21-32).

It is with the imminence of this crucial moment that we find ourselves engaged with the urgency of today’s psalm.

We find ourselves speeding through a brief gallery of images: help, enemies, a glimpse of the Kingdom, the current condition, help.

The feeling of urgency is accentuated by the absence of any sort of route map to help us negotiate the gaps.

There are many times in our lives when we cry out for answers… urgent answers that only God can provide.

Too often we wonder whether God has heard those urgent pleas, as they seem to be greeted with a deafening silence.

Sometimes the wait can seem to go on for ever, and we feel that God has, indeed, abandoned us for ever.

It is during these times that pernicious doubt can so easily take hold.

Today’s psalm offers us reassurance that we are not alone during those scary times, just as Jesus was not alone as this Holy Week was speeding along, and as the horror of Good Friday drew ever closer.