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God’s Steadfast Love Endures


I am one who has seen affliction

under the rod of God’s wrath;


he has driven and brought me

into darkness without any light;


against me alone he turns his hand,

again and again, all day long.



He has made my flesh and my skin waste away,

and broken my bones;


he has besieged and enveloped me

with bitterness and tribulation;


he has made me sit in darkness

like the dead of long ago.



He has walled me about so that I cannot escape;

he has put heavy chains on me;


though I call and cry for help,

he shuts out my prayer;


he has blocked my ways with hewn stones,

he has made my paths crooked.



He is a bear lying in wait for me,

a lion in hiding;


he led me off my way and tore me to pieces;

he has made me desolate;


he bent his bow and set me

as a mark for his arrow.



He shot into my vitals

the arrows of his quiver;


I have become the laughingstock of all my people,

the object of their taunt-songs all day long.


He has filled me with bitterness,

he has sated me with wormwood.



He has made my teeth grind on gravel,

and made me cower in ashes;


my soul is bereft of peace;

I have forgotten what happiness is;


so I say, “Gone is my glory,

and all that I had hoped for from the L ord.”



The thought of my affliction and my homelessness

is wormwood and gall!


My soul continually thinks of it

and is bowed down within me.


But this I call to mind,

and therefore I have hope:



The steadfast love of the L ord never ceases,

his mercies never come to an end;


they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.


“The L ord is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in him.”



The L ord is good to those who wait for him,

to the soul that seeks him.


It is good that one should wait quietly

for the salvation of the L ord.


It is good for one to bear

the yoke in youth,


to sit alone in silence

when the Lord has imposed it,


to put one’s mouth to the dust

(there may yet be hope),


to give one’s cheek to the smiter,

and be filled with insults.



For the Lord will not

reject forever.


Although he causes grief, he will have compassion

according to the abundance of his steadfast love;


for he does not willingly afflict

or grieve anyone.



When all the prisoners of the land

are crushed under foot,


when human rights are perverted

in the presence of the Most High,


when one’s case is subverted

—does the Lord not see it?



Who can command and have it done,

if the Lord has not ordained it?


Is it not from the mouth of the Most High

that good and bad come?


Why should any who draw breath complain

about the punishment of their sins?



Let us test and examine our ways,

and return to the L ord.


Let us lift up our hearts as well as our hands

to God in heaven.


We have transgressed and rebelled,

and you have not forgiven.



You have wrapped yourself with anger and pursued us,

killing without pity;


you have wrapped yourself with a cloud

so that no prayer can pass through.


You have made us filth and rubbish

among the peoples.



All our enemies

have opened their mouths against us;


panic and pitfall have come upon us,

devastation and destruction.


My eyes flow with rivers of tears

because of the destruction of my people.



My eyes will flow without ceasing,

without respite,


until the L ord from heaven

looks down and sees.


My eyes cause me grief

at the fate of all the young women in my city.



Those who were my enemies without cause

have hunted me like a bird;


they flung me alive into a pit

and hurled stones on me;


water closed over my head;

I said, “I am lost.”



I called on your name, O L ord,

from the depths of the pit;


you heard my plea, “Do not close your ear

to my cry for help, but give me relief!”


You came near when I called on you;

you said, “Do not fear!”



You have taken up my cause, O Lord,

you have redeemed my life.


You have seen the wrong done to me, O L ord;

judge my cause.


You have seen all their malice,

all their plots against me.



You have heard their taunts, O L ord,

all their plots against me.


The whispers and murmurs of my assailants

are against me all day long.


Whether they sit or rise—see,

I am the object of their taunt-songs.



Pay them back for their deeds, O L ord,

according to the work of their hands!


Give them anguish of heart;

your curse be on them!


Pursue them in anger and destroy them

from under the L ord’s heavens.


Many renderings are given of these words’ there is, however, no over-statement here; for, as it has been often said, the grief of the people under such a mass of evils could not be sufficiently expressed. The Prophet, no doubt, extended here his hand to the weak, who would have otherwise lain down as dead; for under such evils the ruin of the whole nation, the fall of the city, and the destruction of the temple, it could not be but such thoughts as these must have occurred. Now, as to any one unacquainted with such a trial, he would soon succumb, had no remedy been presented to him. The Prophet then dictates for all the godly such complaints as they might, so to speak, pour forth confidently and freely into the bosom of God.

We hence see that here is even expressed whatever might occur to the minds of God’s children, so that they might not hesitate in their straits to direct their prayers to God, and freely confess whatever they suffered in their souls. For shame closes up the door of access; and thus it happens; that we make a clamor as though God were far away from us; hence impatience breaks out almost to a rage. But when an access to God is opened to us, and we dare to confess what burdens our minds, this, as I have said, is the best way for obtaining relief and comfort. We must then understand the design of the Prophet, that he suggests words to the faithful, that they might freely cast their cares and sorrows on God, and thus find some alleviation.

For this reason, he says that his teeth had been broken by a little stone or pebble. 178178     The word means grit or gravel, rendered “pebble” by the Sept., and “stones” by the Syr. and the Targ. It is rendered “gravel” in Proverbs 20:17. The verb only occurs here and in Psalm 119; and to wear out, is its most suitable meaning, —
   And he hath worn out with grit my teeth.

    — Ed
The same expression, if I mistake not, is found in Job. It is a metaphor taken from those who press stones instead of bread under their teeth; for when grit lies hid in bread, it hurts the teeth. Then inward and hidden griefs are said to be like small stones, which break or shatter the teeth. For the Prophet does not speak here of large stones, but on the contrary he speaks of pebbles or small stones, which deceive men, for they lie hid either in bread or in meat, or in any other kind of food. As, then, the teeth are hurt by pressing them, so the Prophet says that his sorrows were most bitter, as that part, as it is well known, is very tender; and when any injury is done to the teeth, the pain spreads instantly almost through the whole body. This is the reason why he says that his teeth were broken.

Then he adds, that he was covered with dust, or that he was lying down or dragged along in the dust. The expression is taken from those who are drawn by way of reproach along the ground, as a carcass is, or some filthy thing which we abhor. 179179     The verb rendered “covered,” is found only here, and is translated “fed” by the Sept. and Vulg.; “tumbled” or laid low, by the Targ.; and “besprinkled,” by the Syr. As he had said, that his food had been as it were grit, he could not have said that he was fed with ashes. Therefore the arg. or the Syr. is the most suitable, that God had laid him low in ashes, Tr that he had besprinkled or covered him with ashes. — Ed Thus the Prophet complains that there was nothing short of extreme evils. He adds, —

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