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The Lord our Light: Praying Together with the Psalms 28

Written by John Paton, posted on Wednesday, April 29, 2020

In 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


Psalm 107 

O GIVE thanks unto the Lord, for he is gracious: and his mercy endureth for ever. 

Let them give thanks whom the Lord hath redeemed: and delivered from the hand of the enemy; 

And gathered them out of the lands, from the east and from the west: from the north and from the south. 

They went astray in the wilderness out of the way: and found no city to dwell in; 

Hungry and thirsty: their soul fainted in them. 

So they cried unto the Lord in their trouble: and he delivered them from their distress. 

He led them forth by the right way: that they might go to the city where they dwelt. 

O that men would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness: and declare the wonders that he doeth for the children of men!

For he satisfieth the empty soul: and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. 

Such as sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death: being fast bound in misery and iron ; 

Because they rebelled against the words of the Lord: and lightly regarded the counsel of the most Highest; 

He also brought down their heart through heaviness: they fell down, and there was none to help them. 

So when they cried unto the Lord in their trouble: he delivered them out of their distress. 

For he brought them out of darkness, and out of the shadow of death: and brake their bonds in sunder. 

O that men would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness: and declare the wonders that he doeth for the children of men!

For he hath broken the gates of brass: and smitten the bars of iron in sunder. 

Foolish men are plagued for their offence: and because of their wickedness. 

Their soul abhorred all manner of meat: and they were even hard at death's door. 

So when they cried unto the Lord in their trouble: he delivered them out of their distress. 

He sent his word, and healed them: and they were saved from their destruction. 

O that men would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness: and declare the wonders that he doeth for the children of men!

That they would offer unto him the sacrifice of thanksgiving: and tell out his works with gladness! 

They that go down to the sea in ships: and occupy their business in great waters; 

These men see the works of the Lord: and his wonders in the deep. 

For at his word the stormy wind ariseth: which lifteth up the waves thereof. 

They are carried up to the heaven, and down again to the deep: their soul melteth away because of the trouble.

They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man: and are at their wits' end. 

So when they cry unto the Lord in their trouble: he delivereth them out of their distress. 

For he maketh the storm to cease: so that the waves thereof are still. 

Then are they glad, because they are at rest: and so he bringeth them unto the haven where they would be. 

O that men would therefore praise the Lord for his goodness: and declare the wonders that he doeth for the children of men! 

That they would exalt him also in the congregation of the people: and praise him in the seat of the elders!  Who turneth the floods into a wilderness: and drieth up the water-springs. 

A fruitful land maketh he barren: for the wickedness of them that dwell therein. 

Again, he maketh the wilderness a standing water: and water-springs of a dry ground. 

And there he setteth the hungry: that they may build them a city to dwell in; 

That they may sow their land, and plant vineyards: to yield them fruits of increase. 

He blesseth them so that they multiply exceedingly: and suffereth not their cattle to decrease. 

And again, when they are minished and brought low: through oppression, through any plague or trouble; 

Though he suffer them to be evil intreated through tyrants: and let them wander out of the way in the wilderness; 

Yet helpeth he the poor out of misery: and maketh him households like a flock of sheep. 

The righteous will consider this, and rejoice: and the mouth of all wickedness shall be stopped. 

Whoso is wise will ponder these things: and they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord. 


‘Are you saved?’ It’s as well to have notice of that question; and this psalm offers a way of approaching it. We’re shown in turn four groups in various perils – travellers lost in the wilderness, prisoners in iron fetters, sick people at death’s door, storm-tossed mariners. Each of these cry to the Lord in their trouble: one by one they’re brought to a safe place, and they duly give thanks.  

New Testament writers use the word ‘save’ for this gracious action of God. ‘Save yourself, come down from the cross’, cry Jesus’s tormentors. When St Paul is shipwrecked, as in the psalm, he too is ‘saved’ into harbour. When Jesus heals people he says their faith has ‘saved them’; they’re made clean and brought back into the heart of the community. 

The last verses of the psalm envisage a nation restored to a prosperous land, and the psalmist may have been thinking of the Jews in the despair of exile in Babylon. But what about us in our day? Maybe we each need to be rescued from something different, like the people in the psalm: we may not yet be quite saved; but we can trust we’re ‘on the way’. 

John Paton