Psalm 65

The Mission St. Clare website offers the following opening sentence for today’s evening prayer:

Let my prayer be set forth in your sight as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Psalm 141:2

Sounds like it’s written in exile, a time when it was impossible to have the regular temple service. The psalmist asks that his prayer could take the place of the appointed incense offering and burnt offering. It also makes me think of how Israel found ways to continue worship when the temple was destroyed.

There were two psalms appointed this evening — several verses from the second one, Ps. 65, struck me.

2 To you that hear prayer shall all flesh come, *
because of their transgressions.
3 Our sins are stronger than we are, *
but you will blot them out.

“Our sins are stronger than we are” — in our own power we can’t do anything to overcome or outweigh our sin. Instead we look to God to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves. (Is the sacrificial system implicit in this passage? Or is it instead arguing that God does not require sacrifices to enable him to blot out sins? Perhaps this psalm is also exilic, quietly disregarding the discontinued sacrificial system…)

4 Happy are they whom you choose
and draw to your courts to dwell there! *
they will be satisfied by the beauty of your house,
by the holiness of your temple.
5 Awesome things will you show us in your righteousness,
O God of our salvation, *
O Hope of all the ends of the earth
and of the seas that are far away.

Calling God the hope of those who are far off indicates the broad availability of salvation; referring to those he chooses indicates that some might not be chosen. I admit I hope it turns out that all will be chosen, all drawn to his courts, to be satisfied with him, although I have not yet found the arguments for universalism to be entirely persuasive.

7 You still the roaring of the seas, *
the roaring of their waves,
and the clamor of the peoples.

I wonder, did the disciples, and those who heard about it, think of this psalm when Jesus calmed the storm?


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