“Psalm 11”

God is my chosen shelter from all woe;
In vain the craven bid me flee, saying,
“The wicked stand in ambush for the just,
With readied bows and secret plans afoot!
Who can resist them? Therefore rise and run,
Take hidden refuge in the desert hills
Just like a startled songbird seeks its nest.
Has even God’s good government now failed?
With what he he promised seeming now undone,
What can we do? What can he do?” they say.

But God sits, holy, on his throne above,
Within his temple hearing all our prayers.
There is not one on earth he does not see;
Their hidden ways, the secrets of their hearts,
And all their deeds lie open to his thought.
Because the Lord is righteous, a just Judge,
He concentrates to keep the righteous safe,
But stares with hatred on all evil-doers,
And for those who delight in violent deeds
Prepares this just and fitting punishment:

Since they have burned with zeal for wickedness,
Fire, coals, and sulfur’s stink shall rain on them,
With only desert winds for their relief,
A dry and scorching heat that has no end.
Not so, however, for those God protects;
Our righteous Lord loves justice. In his court
Those who are upright in his sight shall stand,
Secure from harm and unafraid of threats;
Within his temple they shall see his face.

An den Wassern Babylons by Gebhard Fugel

This poem is the eleventh in my series of verse paraphrases of the Psalms. I began this project in 2012, starting with the first Psalm, and have worked on one Psalm at a time; I began this poem soon after finishing my setting of Psalm 10 in June, and finished it earlier this week.

As always, I earnestly welcome your questions, suggestions, or other comments about this or any other part of my work. If you’d like to read more of my poetry, you can read my archive (also organized in more manageable installments); get my book, which contains over sixty of my best poems, each paired with a public-domain illustration or drawing; or follow this blog for (now only occasional) new poetry (among other things). You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.


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