A Prayer for the Punishment of the Wicked
58 1 Is this any way to run a country? Is there an honest politician in the house? 2 Behind the scenes you brew cauldrons of evil, behind closed doors you make deals with demons. 3 The wicked crawl from the wrong side of the cradle; their first words out of the womb are lies. 4 Poison, lethal rattlesnake poison, drips from their forked tongues - 5 Deaf to threats, deaf to charm, decades of wax built up in their ears.
6 God, smash their teeth to bits, leave them toothless tigers. 7 Let their lives be buckets of water spilled, all that's left, a damp stain in the sand. Let them be trampled grass worn smooth by the traffic. 8 Let them dissolve into snail slime, be a miscarried fetus that never sees sunlight. 9 Before what they cook up is half-done, God, throw it out with the garbage! 10 The righteous will call up their friends when they see the wicked get their reward, Serve up their blood in goblets as they toast one another, 11 Everyone cheering, "It's worth it to play by the rules! God's handing out trophies and tending the earth!"
A Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies
59 1 My God! Rescue me from my enemies, defend me from these mutineers. 2 Rescue me from their dirty tricks, save me from their hit men. 3 Desperadoes have ganged up on me, they're hiding in ambush for me. I did nothing to deserve this, God, 4 crossed no one, wronged no one. All the same, they're after me, determined to get me. 5 You're God, God of angel armies, Israel's God! Get on the job and take care of these pagans, don't be soft on these hard cases. 6 They return when the sun goes down, They howl like coyotes, ringing the city. 7 Then suddenly they're all at the gate, Snarling invective, drawn daggers in their teeth. They think they'll never get caught.
8 But you, God, break out laughing; you treat the godless nations like jokes. 9 Strong God, I'm watching you do it, I can always count on you. 10 God in dependable love shows up on time, shows me my enemies in ruin. 11 Don't make quick work of them, God, lest my people forget. Bring them down in slow motion, take them apart piece by piece. 12 Let all their mean-mouthed arrogance catch up with them, Catch them out and bring them down - every muttered curse - every barefaced lie. 13 Finish them off in fine style! Finish them off for good! Then all the world will see that God rules well in Jacob, everywhere that God's in charge. 14 They return when the sun goes down, They howl like coyotes, ringing the city. 15 They scavenge for bones, And bite the hand that feeds them. 16 And me? I'm singing your prowess, shouting at cockcrow your largesse, For you've been a safe place for me, a good place to hide. 17 Strong God, I'm watching you do it, I can always count on you - God, my dependable love.
A Prayer for Help against the Foe
60 1 God! you walked off and left us, kicked our defenses to bits And stalked off angry. Come back. Oh please, come back! 2 You shook earth to the foundations, ripped open huge crevasses. Heal the breaks! Everything's coming apart at the seams. 3 You made your people look doom in the face, then gave us cheap wine to drown our troubles. 4 Then you planted a flag to rally your people, an unfurled flag to look to for courage. 5 Now do something quickly, answer right now, so the one you love best is saved.
6 That's when God spoke in holy splendor, "Bursting with joy, I make a present of Shechem, I hand out Succoth Valley as a gift. 7 Gilead's in my pocket, to say nothing of Manasseh. Ephraim's my hard hat, Judah my hammer; 8 Moab's a scrub bucket, I mop the floor with Moab, Spit on Edom, rain fireworks all over Philistia." 9 Who will take me to the thick of the fight? Who'll show me the road to Edom? 10 You aren't giving up on us, are you, God? refusing to go out with our troops? 11 Give us help for the hard task; human help is worthless. 12 In God we'll do our very best; he'll flatten the opposition for good.
Confidence in God's Protection
61 1 God, listen to me shout, bend an ear to my prayer. 2 When I'm far from anywhere, down to my last gasp, I call out, "Guide me up High Rock Mountain!" 3 You've always given me breathing room, a place to get away from it all, 4 A lifetime pass to your safe-house, an open invitation as your guest.
5 You've always taken me seriously, God, made me welcome among those who know and love you. 6 Let the days of the king add up to years and years of good rule. 7 Set his throne in the full light of God; post Steady Love and Good Faith as lookouts, 8 And I'll be the poet who sings your glory - and live what I sing every day.
God the Only Refuge
62 1 God, the one and only - I'll wait as long as he says. Everything I need comes from him, so why not? 2 He's solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, An impregnable castle: I'm set for life. 3 How long will you gang up on me? How long will you run with the bullies? There's nothing to you, any of you - rotten floorboards, worm-eaten rafters, 4 Anthills plotting to bring down mountains, far gone in make-believe. You talk a good line, but every "blessing" breathes a curse. 5 God, the one and only - I'll wait as long as he says. Everything I hope for comes from him, so why not? 6 He's solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, An impregnable castle: I'm set for life. 7 My help and glory are in God
8 So trust him absolutely, people; lay your lives on the line for him. God is a safe place to be. 9 Man as such is smoke, woman as such, a mirage. Put them together, they're nothing; two times nothing is nothing. 10 And a windfall, if it comes - don't make too much of it. 11 God said this once and for all; how many times Have I heard it repeated? "Strength comes Straight from God." 12 Love to you, Lord God! You pay a fair wage for a good day's work!
God Satisfies the Thirsting Soul
63 1 God - you're my God! I can't get enough of you! I've worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts. 2 So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory.
3 In your generous love I am really living at last! My lips brim praises like fountains. 4 I bless you every time I take a breath; My arms wave like banners of praise to you. 5 I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy; I smack my lips. It's time to shout praises! 6 If I'm sleepless at midnight, I spend the hours in grateful reflection.
7 Because you've always stood up for me, I'm free to run and play. 8 I hold on to you for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post. 9 Those who are out to get me are marked for doom, marked for death, bound for hell. 10 They'll die violent deaths; jackals will tear them limb from limb. 11 But the king is glad in God; his true friends spread the joy, While small-minded gossips are gagged for good.
A Prayer for Protection from Hidden Enemies
64 1 Listen and help, O God. I'm reduced to a whine And a whimper, obsessed with feelings of doomsday. 2 Don't let them find me - the conspirators out to get me, 3 Using their tongues as weapons, flinging poison words, poison-tipped arrow-words. 4 They shoot from ambush, shoot without warning, not caring who they hit. 5 They keep fit doing calisthenics of evil purpose, They keep lists of the traps they've secretly set. They say to each other, "No one can catch us, 6 no one can detect our perfect crime." The Detective detects the mystery in the dark of the cellar heart.
7 The God of the Arrow shoots! They double up in pain, 8 Fall flat on their faces in full view of the grinning crowd. 9 Everyone sees it. God's work is the talk of the town. 10 Be glad, good people! Fly to God! Good-hearted people, make praise your habit.
Praise for God's Bounty in Nature
65 1 Silence is praise to you, Zion-dwelling God, And also obedience. 2 You hear the prayer in it all. We all arrive at your doorstep sooner or later, loaded with guilt, 3 Our sins too much for us - but you get rid of them once and for all. 4 Blessed are the chosen! Blessed the guest at home in your place! We expect our fill of good things in your house, your heavenly manse. 5 All your salvation wonders are on display in your trophy room. Earth-Tamer, Ocean-Pourer,
6 Mountain-Maker, Hill-Dresser, 7 Muzzler of sea storm and wave crash, of mobs in noisy riot - 8 Far and wide they'll come to a stop, they'll stare in awe, in wonder. Dawn and dusk take turns calling, "Come and worship." 9 Oh, visit the earth, ask her to join the dance! Deck her out in spring showers, fill the God-River with living water. Paint the wheat fields golden. Creation was made for this! 10 Drench the plowed fields, soak the dirt clods With rainfall as harrow and rake bring her to blossom and fruit. 11 Snow-crown the peaks with splendor, scatter rose petals down your paths, 12 All through the wild meadows, rose petals. Set the hills to dancing, 13 Dress the canyon walls with live sheep, a drape of flax across the valleys. Let them shout, and shout, and shout! Oh, oh, let them sing!