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The Lord our Light: Praying Together with the Psalms 15

Written by John Paton, posted on Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Edmund NeweyIn these extraordinary times, as our nation and our world face the unprecedented challenge of the Coronavirus epidemic, our first task is naturally to support and enable the efforts of frontline staff tackling the disease and supporting those who have fallen ill. As we engage in every way we can with their work, we as Christians turn for guidance to God, in whom we have our origin and our end.

Here at Christ Church the book of Psalms – the prayer book of the Bible, as it is sometimes called – sustains our daily worship, now as always. Public worship is no longer an option, but the cathedral clergy here are maintaining the daily round of prayer and warmly encourage you to share in the spiritual communion that prayer makes possible across all boundaries of time and space.

At the core of this work of prayer the psalms voice the cry of our hearts to God. With this in mind the ministry team here is sharing one psalm each day with an accompanying reflection. Recalling the University of Oxford’s motto, Dominus illuminatio mea – ‘The Lord is my light’ – we pray that, together, we may know God’s strength, encouragement and blessing in this time of need.

‘The Lord is my light, and my salvation; whom then shall I fear: the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom then shall I be afraid?’ (Psalm 27:1)

Edmund Newey, Sub Dean

FlowersPsalm 13

HOW long wilt thou forget me, O Lord, for ever: how long wilt thou hide thy face from me?
How long shall I seek counsel in my soul, and be so vexed in my heart: how long shall mine enemies triumph over me?
Consider, and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, that I sleep not in death.
Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him: for if I be cast down, they that trouble me will rejoice at it.
But my trust is in thy mercy: and my heart is joyful in thy salvation.
I will sing of the Lord, because he hath dealt so lovingly with me: yea, I will praise the Name of the Lord most Highest.

Devotional readers of the psalter are frequently confounded when the guidance or comfort they’ve sought turn unexpectedly to hostility and suspicion. ‘How long shall my enemies triumph over me?’ the psalmist cries. Has God forgotten him, will his despair end only in death? Powerless in the hands of those who trouble him, all he can do is call upon God for deliverance.

Few of us, we trust, will encounter similar perils. But they were there in the distant bloodshed of religious or civil strife, and the great conflicts of the last couple of centuries. The seeds of hatred are always at hand to be sown.

For the Church, the psalmist’s prayers are the words of Christ, who turned his back to the smiters, and pleaded that they would be forgiven. If we can learn to pray likewise, even in the days when those around us seem to bear little malice; if our radiant good will can turn others’ hearts to peace, and reveal to them the faithfulness of the God who deals so lovingly with his children; then our trusting and joyful hearts will be a sign to all around us that no one will be cast down for ever.

John Paton