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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.


At the first view, this complaint may seem to proceed from a bitter heart; for here the faithful complain that they had been slain, and then that God had executed his judgment as it were in darkness, without any indulgence; and the next verse confirms the same thing. But it is a simple acknowledgment of God’s righteous vengeance for in their extreme calamities the faithful could not declare that God dealt mercifully with them, for they had been subjected to extreme rigor, as we have before seen. Had they said that they had been leniently chastised, it would have been very strange, for the temple had been burnt, the city had been demolished, the kingdom had been overthrown, the people for the most part had been driven into exile, the remainder had been scattered, the covenant of God had been in a manner abolished; for it could not have been thought otherwise according to the judgment of the flesh. Had, then, the exiles in Chaldea said that God had smitten them leniently, would not such an extenuation have appeared very strange? and had also the Prophet spoken in the same strain? For the causes of sorrow were almost innumerable: every one had been robbed of his goods; then there were many widows, many orphans; but the chief causes of sorrow were the burning of the temple and the ruin of the kingdom. No wonder, then, that the faithful set forth here their aggravated evils: but yet they seek out no other cause than their own sins.

Hence they say now, that God had covered them over in wrath It is a most suitable metaphor; as though he had said, that God had executed his vengeance in thick darkness. For an object presented to the eye produces sympathy, and we are easily inclined to mercy when a sad spectacle is presented to us. Hence it is, that even the most savage enemies are sometimes softened, for they are led by their eyes to acts of humanity. The Prophet, then, in order to set forth the horrible vengeance of God, says that there had been a covering introduced, so that God had punished the wicked people in an implacable manner. But as I have said, he does not charge God with cruelty, though he says that he had covered them over in wrath. 196196     To “cover” is the idea given to the verb by the Sept., the Vulg, the Syr., and the Targ.; but Blayney and some others take it in the sense of fencing in, enclosing, in allusion to the practice of hunters; and the next verb, which means to pursue, to chase, favors this meaning, —
   Thou hast in wrath enclosed and chased us,
Thou hast slain and not spared.

   Then the same verb begins the next verse, —

   Thou hast enclosed thyself in a cloud,
That prayer might not pass through.

    — Ed

He then says, Thou hast pursued us and killed us, and hast not spared They intimate, in short, that God had been a severe judge; but they at the same time turned to themselves and sought there the cause, even that they might not, by their own hardness, provoke God against themselves, as hypocrites are wont to do. And the consciousness of evil leads us also to repentance; for whence is it that men grow torpid in their sins, except that they flatter themselves? When, therefore, God suspends his judgments, or when he moderates them, and does not punish men as they deserve, then, if there be any repentance, it is yet frigid, and soon vanishes. This, then, is the reason why God inflicts deadly strokes, because we feel not his hand except the stroke be as it were deadly. As, then, simple chastisement is not sufficient to lead us to repentance, the Prophet introduces the faithful as speaking thus, “Behold, thou hast in wrath covered us over, so as not to look on us,” so that there might be no opportunity for mercy, that is, that they might be the judges of themselves, and conclude from the atrocity of their punishment how grievously they must have provoked the wrath of God. It follows in the same sense, —

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