Do you remember Sister Johanna writing about praying the Psalms, and how the difficult prayers that we do not agree with have a place in our own prayer life? ‘This is not pretty’, we might say, ‘but I need to tell it to someone.’ Here David wants to guard his mouth, but what comes out is the sort of confusion that springs from deep hurt as we have been touching on these last days. But ‘surely in vain is any man disquieted.’ Easier said than felt or acted upon. But saying it is a start.
Psalm 38 (39) A canticle of David.
I said: I will take heed to my ways: that I sin not with my tongue. I have set guard to my mouth, when the sinner stood against me.
I was dumb, and was humbled, and kept silence from good things: and my sorrow was renewed.
My heart grew hot within me: and in my meditation a fire shall flame out.
I spoke with my tongue: O Lord, make me know my end. And what is the number of my days: that I may know what is wanting to me.
Behold thou hast made my days measurable: and my substance is as nothing before thee. And indeed all things are vanity: every man living.
Surely man passeth as an image: yea, and he is disquieted in vain. He storeth up: and he knoweth not for whom he shall gather these things.
And now what is my hope? is it not the Lord? and my substance is with thee.
Deliver thou me from all my iniquities: thou hast made me a reproach to the fool.
I was dumb, and I opened not my mouth, because thou hast done it.
Remove thy scourges from me. The strength of thy hand hath made me faint in rebukes:
Thou hast corrected man for iniquity. And thou hast made his soul to waste away like a spider: surely in vain is any man disquieted.
Hear my prayer, O Lord, and my supplication: give ear to my tears. Be not silent: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner as all my fathers were.
O forgive me, that I may be refreshed, before I go hence, and be no more.