“Psalm 15”

Sovereign Lord, our Lord, who may live with you?
And who will you allow within your house,
To come into your holy presence there
And stand before your glory and your face?

A person who has lived a blameless life
And never wandered from the righteous path,
Whose heart is full of truth and overflows
To speak no lie against his neighbor’s good,
Who holds those who love God in high esteem
But scorns the vile, who disregard God’s law,
With grave contempt born from his highest love,
Who makes no promise he will fail to keep,
Who seeks no profit in his neighbor’s pain
But gives and lends his money without cost,
Who judges justly and impartially,
Finding in favor of the innocent
And never looking at an offered bribe—

If anyone is righteous, he shall stand
And enter in God’s presence in his house,
Where nothing shall disturb his trusting rest.

The Anchorite by Teodor Axentowicz

This poem is the fifteenth 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 13, in November of last year, but didn’t finish it until earlier this month.

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, questions, critique, or other feedback 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), follow this blog for (now only occasional) new poetry (among other things), or get my book, which contains over sixty of my best poems, each paired with a public-domain illustration or drawing. The Kindle edition of my book is on sale this weekend. You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

“Catechesis”

O Lord, the catechism teaches me
That not one man—no one of Adam’s sons—
Can keep a single precept of your Law
With that perfection of obedience
Which it deserves and, justly, you demand,
And that the best of those you’ve called and claimed
Has in this life made but the small first steps
Toward that boundless and wholehearted love—
And that by grace, “lest any man should boast.”
But I have seen my steps go wandering
Both far and wide, to any path but yours,
To my regret, my peril, and my shame;
At last repenting, I would turn again
My face towards your city soon to come.
I, blushing, have resolved to lay aside
Distractions and “attractive nuisances”
That, though good gifts from you, have weighed me down,
To spend my strength in service to your call
And in your kingdom’s work, and not mere trifles.

I wrote this in a time of reflection some time after hearing a sermon that drew from the Heidelberg Catechism’s teaching about the Tenth Commandment and the Decalogue as a whole.

As always, I earnestly welcome your (further) 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 (perhaps 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 this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

This poem is also mirrored on my wiki.

“Psalm 1”

How blest is he who, blameless, does not walk
In evil paths that wicked men command,
Or take his stand with those who will not heed,
Or sit among the disobedient—
For his supreme delight is in God’s law
His thoughts dwell ever on it all the day,
And in his heart he nightly meditates
On all the precepts that the Lord has made.
And therefore he’s established like a tree
That’s planted by the waters by God’s hand,
That yearly bears its fruit abundantly
And stretches forth its branches lushly garbed
With leaves, unwithering, of verdant green—
And every work to which he’s turned his hands
The Lord has made to prosper and succeed.

Not so the wicked, whom God does not help.
Like piles of chaff left on the threshing floor,
Then scattered by the wind, they too shall pass.
For thus the wicked shall not stand for long
Under the judgment of God’s holy throne,
Nor sinners live among his righteous saints
Who always gather for his glory’s praise—
For God preserves the paths of righteous men,
But wicked men are stumbling down to death.

This versification, or “setting,” of the first Psalm is the beginning of a new intermittent series of poems I’ve embarked on. I intend to write at least one setting of each of the 150 psalms.

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 yesterday’s archive installment, 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.