Psalm Sunday: How to Live in a Cave & How Not to Have to

Psalm Sunday: How to Live in a Cave & How Not to Have to


Matt Hoffman

Psalm 70




The aim of every [person] and indeed the perfection of his heart amounts to this – continual and unbroken perseverance in prayer, and, as far as it is allowed to human frailty, strives to acquire an immovable tranquility of mind and a perpetual purity. -Abba Issac

This is something which has been handed on to us by some of the oldest of the Fathers and it is something which we hand on to only a very small number of the souls eager to know it: To keep the thought of God always in your mind you must cling totally to this formula for piety: “God! Please hurry to my rescue! God, come quickly to my side!” -Abba Isaac

It is not without good reason that this verse has been chosen from the whole of Scripture as a device. It carries within it all the feelings of which human nature is capable. It can be adapted to every condition and can be usefully deployed against every temptation. It carries within it a cry of help to God in the face of every danger. It expresses the humility of a pious confession. It conveys the watchfulness born of unending worry and fear. It conveys a sense of our frailty, the assurance of being heard, the confidence in help that is always and everywhere present. Someone forever calling out to his protector is indeed very sure of having him close by. This is the voice filled with the ardor of love and of charity.

This is the terrified cry of someone who sees the snares of the enemy, the cry of someone besieged day and night and exclaiming that he cannot escape unless his protector comes to the rescue. If things go well for us in spirit, if there is joy in our hearts, this verse is a warning to us not to grow proud, not to get puffed up being in a good condition which, as it demonstrates, cannot be retained without the protection of God for whose continuous and speedy help it prays.

This little verse, I am saying, proves to be necessary and useful to each one of us and in all circumstances. For someone who needs help in all things is making clear that he requires the help of God not simply in hard and sad situations but equally amid fortunate and joyful conditions. He knows that God saves us from adversity and makes our joys linger and that in neither situation can human frailty survive without his help. -Abba Isaac

God! Please hurry to my rescue!

God, come quickly to my side!

-Psalm 70:1 (The Message)

The Book of Psalms: A Translation by Robert Alter

Psalms: the Prayerbook of the Bible by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Seeing the Psalms by William Brown

Praying the Psalms by Walter Brueggemann

Reflections on the Psalms by C.S. Lewis

Praying the Psalms by Thomas Merton

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson

Praying With the Psalms by Eugene Peterson

The Case for the Psalms by N.T. Wright


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