“Psalm 5”

O Lord, incline your ear to hear my words,
And let my sighing come before your face;
Oh, listen to my anguished plea for help.
My righteous King, my voice will rise to you
When in the morning I will rise to pray,
To lay my wants and fears before your feet
And wait expectantly to hear your voice.

For though the idols whom the nations fear,
Capricious, revel in their sinful deeds,
I know that you, O Lord, are not a God
Who takes delight in any evil acts—
No haughty, arrogant, or wicked man
Can stand unharmed before your judgment seat,
Because you hate all those who do such ill,
Destroying those who “practice to deceive”
And lie in wait to snare the righteous’ blood.

But you, O Lord, are richly merciful,
And so permit me entrance to your house,
So I will kneel in worship—reverent, bow—
As I look toward the temple where you dwell.

Lead, me, O Lord, God of my fathers,
To tread the righteous ways that you have set;
Make straight the paths in which my feet will walk,
Because so many foes are round about,
Whose words rush forth in cruel accusations,
The overflow of hearts that seek men’s ill
And throats that, like a newly-opened grave,
Lead nowhere but to shadows and to death,
Stirred up by tongues that cannot speak the truth.

Rebuke them, O my God! Let all they plan
Result in no one’s ruin but their own;
Evict them from your presence and your land,
For they have risen up against your reign.

But let all those who hide in you be glad—
Who in you find their refuge, sing for joy—
And shelter them under your mighty wing,
That all who love your name and seek your face
May raise, rejoicing, shouts of joyful thanks.
For we, O Lord, can know with certainty
That you have set your blessing on the just
And that your glorious favor, like a shield,
Surrounds your righteous saints on every side.

This is the latest, and longest so far, in my series of Psalm verse settings. I’ve been working on it for over a month, and only finished it quite recently.

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, suggestions, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. (In other words, if you liked this poem, or you didn’t like it, or it made you think of something, or … please leave a comment to let me know.) If you liked this, you can follow this blog , which includes one of my poems every Friday, or read other poems I’ve written here on my blog (starting with those linked from one of the “archive ” installments, since the full archive is by now, at well over a hundred poems, somewhat daunting); I’d especially like to know, as part of my preparations for a collection, which poems you think are my best. You may also share it with others, subject to my sharing policy.

This poem is also archived on my wiki.


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