The Old Testament Psalms are the Church’s prayer book. For this reason, the Revised Common Lectionary includes a psalm for each daily reading. What’s more, the lectionary typically repeats the psalm for three consecutive days. This is to emphasize both the need to internalize biblical prayers as well as to allow us to linger with the problems, feelings, grief, praise, and situation within the psalm. This allows us to not jump to hasty solutions and to act with careful and deliberate spiritual resolve.
Psalm 143 was crafted by David during a difficult time in his life. David never was one to shy away from giving vent to God about his complaint; and, in equal measure, his confidence in God to handle the situation.
Since psalms are meant to be slowly imbibed, I began a practice several years ago of translating many of them for my own devotional purposes.* For today’s translation, I am taking a few liberties with the text by deliberately changing the pronouns from singular to plural; and, naming the mentioned enemy specifically as COVID-19 so that this becomes a communal prayer for a specific circumstance:
Listen to our prayer, Lord!
Because of your faithfulness, bend your gracious ear to our requests for mercy!
Out of the vast storehouse of your righteousness, answer us!
Please don’t bring your people to judgment,
because, compared to you, not one person on the face of the earth is righteous before you.
You full well know that COVID-19 is hunting us down,
crushing life in the dirt,
forcing us to live sequestered
as if we are already in the grave.
Our spirits are growing weary—
our minds are a desert.
We remember the days when we were free of this scourge;
we chatted You up to others about all your awesome deeds;
we would talk about Your divine action in the world.
We did not hesitate to lift holy hands in prayer;
we were like dry earth, soaking up Your presence.
Answer us, Lord—and make it quick! Our fortitude needs to get bolstered.
Don’t hide your face from us
or that will be the end of us, for sure! We’ll die of the virus!
When we wake up in the morning, assure us of Your faithful love
because we’ve pinned our full trust on You.
Show us the next steps we need to take,
because we are looking up to You.
Deliver us from COVID-19, Lord!
We seek protection from you.
Teach us what we’re supposed to learn, what pleases you,
because you are our God.
Guide us by your good spirit
into good green pastures.
Give us life, Lord, for Your name’s sake.
Bring us out of this intense stress because of Your righteousness.
Wipe out COVID-19 because of your faithful love.
Destroy every germ which attacks us,
because we are Your people.
We are truly in this together. Click “Oh My Soul” by Casting Crowns to be reminded that we are not alone; and, that there is a God who listens.
*The translation of the psalm is based on an understanding of the Hebrew text and not a transliteration from English.