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GEORGE BUCHANAN’S PARAPHRASES
OF BOOK II OF THE PSALMS
Most excellent Creator of the universe, the stag does not so greedily wish for the cool brook, the stag (I say) whom a pack of hounds runs down, as my heart is seized with an eager desire after Thee. Sweet love, and an ardour unable to bear delays, violently carries me hither. O that auspicious day which has set me, returned back from exile, into Thy Temple! O the glorious splendor of that day! Fasting grief feeds itself with tears instead of meat, while the rabble meeting me, mocking at my misfortunes, asks, “Hark you, why does this thy God forsake thee, now an exile?” But when again Thy goodness comes into my remembrance and the assured faith of Thy aid hath enlightened my fearful mind, I comfort myself with the thought of that time when the people shall receive me, again returned, with solemn assemblies and propitious acclamations, and with solemn pomp accompany me to the august Temple of God. O my troubled soul, why dost thou dispirit both me and thyself with vexing sorrows? Lay aside thy fear and commit thyself to God, Who being my defender, I, restored to my native country, hitherto in safety, will give thanks. This hope refresheth my soul, although I lurk in the inaccessible forests of Jordan, although, an exile, I traverse the rugged rocks of Hermon, inhabited only by wild beasts. Although evils bear me down on every side more closely than armies, or than the hail rattles upon the rugged mountains, or than the sea lashes the shores with its hoarse bellows. If Thou shalt look upon me with a pleasant countenance, the clouds of sorrow shall disperse, one pleasant ray of Thy light will drive away the sullen darkness of grief from me. In the mean time, neither the night nor cares shall hinder Thy praises to me. I will say, “O my support and undoubted safety, why dost Thou leave me a scorn to my cruel enemies?” I am ready to burst, my breast burns with secret fire, while the wicked rabble, insulting over my misfortune, ask, “Hark you, why doth this thy God forsake thee, now an exile?” O my troubled soul, why dost thou dispirit both me and thyself with vexing sorrows? Lay aside thy fear and commit thyself to God, Who being my defender, I restored to my native country, being as yet cheerful, will give thanks.
O God, be Thou a defender to me, and with Thy protection cover me, oppressed by the ungodly villain, and break the wicked nets of the crafty. O defence of my life, why dost Thou leave me destitute of Thy protection. Why do I wander overwhelmed with sorrow while I shun the furies of cruel tyranny? Do Thou send forth the light of Thy aid, shew the way which leads to Thy mountain (I say), to Thy mountain, the house which Thou peculiarly inhabitest with the majesty of Thy divine presence. And, most excellent Creator, I will go unto Thy altar and to Thee, the subject of my joy, and cheerfully will give thanks to Thee upon the grateful harp. O my troubled soul, why dost thou grieve and make me pine away with an anxious mind? Lay aside all fear and commit the care of thyself to God, Whom I, hitherto preserved, will extol above the heavens with my song, when I shall be restored in safety to my lovely native country.
O God, ancient fame hath brought to our ears, and our fathers have handed down to latest posterity, the stupendous deeds performed by Thee in former ages when, having cast out the heathen nations and former inhabitants, Thou allowedst our fathers to enjoy their labour and their fruits. Surely we neither owed these victories to our bright armor, nor to our strength, but the soft breath of Thy favour and Thy indulgence hath protected us. Wherefore, o God, the alone author of safety, be Thou present bringing safety to the pious. Thou giving strength, we shall as easily vanquish the fierceness of our enemies as a bull tosseth the balls or bundles of dry straw upon his threatning horn we shall trample upon the proud necks of kings laid prostrate in the thick dust. Neither the deadly bow nor the cruel sword hath inspired us with this courage. Thou wilt withdraw us from the enemy, and lay flat upon the ground the troops harrassing us. Shall not we therefore always with good reason praise Thee, the maintainer of our safety, and follow after Thee with praises, as long as the sphere shall turn round the bright constellations? But now thou exposest us abandoned to the ill usage of our cruel enemies, nor dost Thou go forth a leader before our troops as Thou wast wont formerly. Thou forceth us to turn our backs to the approaching foe, and givest us as a prey to our pursuers. We are exposed to the will of our butchers, as sheep destined to the shambles, and we fill all the lands of the heathen nations by our wandering like vagabonds. Thou hast given us to be sold openly, nor hath the sale made Thee richer. The neighbouring towns insult over our misfortunes and laugh at our defeats. We are a by-word to the heathen nations, they shake their head, they stretch out their lips. Reproach continually appears before our eyes, and shame colours our faces, while our wanton enemy imbitters his injuries with provoking language and adds stern threats. Overwhelmed with so many misfortunes, so many pressing on every side, yet our mind is not at any time forgetful of Thee and of the Covenant made with Thee, neither hath our foot, affrightened by any dangers, turned itself back or declined from the right way, although in the mean time, utterly cast off by Thee, although condemned to the yoke of a nation more cruel than dragons, we endure the gloom of a prison and bewail our bondage, and, from a loathing of life, call upon death. If forgetfulness, unjust to Thy favours, hath thrown itself over our minds, or if we have stretched forth suppliant hands to the deities of the ungodly nations, could this escape Thee, Who beholds the recesses of the breast entirely concealed? For Thy sake we are hated by the rest of the world and slaughtered like sheep, we suffer punishments for our respect towards Thee, their hatred of our love to Thee oppresses us. Author of our safety, arise, shorten the delay, which is like one about to fall asleep. Why dost Thou hide Thy face and, unmindful, neglect Thy own in their greatest dangers? My afflicted soul, wearied with the present calamities and anxious about those yet to come, sinks down under the load, my limbs, void of strength, pine away, lying along the ground. Father, arise and raise us up, who want ` of body and mind, and, being merciful and gracious, deliver us from the cruelty of our wicked enemy.
My heart beats, my inwards leap with quavering fibres and pour forth a new song from a full breast. My tongue in speaking strives to keep pace with my thought, and my hand, envious, strives in writing to keep pace with my tongue, while I sing new songs to my king. To my king, to whom none sprung from the seed of men dare compare for the gift of eminent beauty, whom comeliness and grace poured on His ruby lips doth adorn, and to whom the indulgence of heaven hath engaged, that this course of things will be continued to latest ages.
Wherefore, o hero invincible in arms, come, fit thy sword to thy valiant shoulders, thy sword, by which thy renown hath made thee equal to heaven, and bear a courageous breast against the opposite foe. Truth, and righteousness, and meekness which restrains headstrong rage, shall manage the reigns of thy chariot. Under these leaders, honour shall arise to thee, and thy right hand, famous for its atchievements, shall spread thy wonderful deeds through lands unknown. And thou, piercing their hostile hearts with thy galling arrows, shalt compel powerful nations, of their own accord, to fall down before thee.
Neither the bounds of the sea or of land, nor the end of time, shall terminate thy empire, which thou rulest with the moderation of a righteous sceptre, and compassionately softenest harsh laws. The Ruler of heaven loves thee above all thy fellows, and hath made thy face cheerful with the oil of joy. From whence new joys soothe the minds of the people, when thy garments shall be brought forth to thee out of the ivory chests, and everywhere drops of myrrh, and the sweet odour of cinnamon, and the sweet perfumes of cassia are poured forth. Thy handmaids, the offspring of the noble blood of kings, appear among thy maids of honour, in waiting for thy commands.
But the queen, the partner of thy bed, sits close by thy right hand, her bosom embellished with gold, her hair sparkling with gold which the yellow Ophir hath sent from its eastern furnaces. Also to thou therefore, o queen, hearken and lay up this affair in thy heart, neither refuse to give my words a favourable hearing. Even now forget both thy native country and they father, even now lay aside thy beloved relations entirely from thy thought. Behold the king alone with your eyes, comprehend him alone in your thought, I say, behold the king with your eyes and thought, who is intent upon thy face, and continues fixed on the charming countenance of thee alone. Acknowledge him as thy lord, and in a suppliant manner worship him, nor will he yield to thee in courtesy or regard. And Tyre, that queen of the waves, shall pay her respects to thee, heaping thee with purple and gold, and everywhere among the neighbouring towns, those that are either powerful by their treasures or eminent by their wealth, shall humbly fall down prostrate before thee, and ye people shall confer this deserved honour upon your queen. The noble daughter of king Pharaoh is altogether comely and glorious with jewels and gold, her face too sets off her dress, and her mind is even more beautiful than her comely face. Behold, o king, a wife is married to thee, rich in wealth, rich in embroidered garments and in gold, accompanied with her virgins, of a kindred near allied to herself, I say, with her virgins, whom a numerous retinue follows with joyful acclamations and making a great noise with clapping of hands, and with the songs of the joyous choir shall conduct her with gladness to the royal palace. Neither, o virgin, be thou too much touched with the absence of thy relations: thou shalt see a noble race of offspring, coming to the world, govern the lands with a princely sway, and with their sceptre keep under the proud nations over the whole world.
Nor shalt thou, great king, be unmentioned in my songs, and wherever the earth, surrounded by the roaring of the liquid ocean, extends, posterity to come shall praise thee. And while the pole shall turn round the bright constellations, thou shalt always be celebrated with lasting fame.
When the Ruler of the world fortifies us with His protection, strengthens us with courage, and delivers us from the perils of fortune, when a grievous storm thunders, we shall fear no violence, although confusion shake the world and the earth, torn from its foundations, straiten the waters of the roaring sea with the ruins of mountains, though its boisterous waters do rage, and toss up both foam and slime from its whirling deep, and lash the rocks with dreadful storms. For a purling stream, gliding along with cooling water, maketh glad the city which God particularly favours and hath devoted in a peculiar manner for His altars. Lest secret violence or hostile fear should disturb the peace of the city, God, attentive to the safety of His own people, prevents their dangers by His protection. Uproar may rouse up the heathen nations, and the fury of war shake kingdoms, the heaven may thunder with flashing lightnings, and the tottering earth affrighten, the God of Abraham, the sole judge both of peace and war, Who over-rules the issue of battles, the defence and fortress of our safety, standeth upon our side. Come, come hither and behold things never heard of before, wonderful and unknown, which God hath performed in the earth, from the rising of the sun to its western couch. He hath extinguished the deadly flames of war, blunted the point of the bloody spear, broke the bows in pieces, and reduced the swift chariots to ashes. “Compose the passions of your mind,” saith God, “and acknowledge My power, Whom let mankind, inhabiting regions of the world lying under whatever climate, adore.” The God of Abraham, the sole judge of both peace and war, who over-rules the issues of battles, the defence and fortress of our safety, standeth on our side.
Give loud acclamations to God, all ye inhabitants of the earth. With gladness celebrate the Lord in musical songs, I say praise God, venerable and exalted, and terrible to the wicked, Who with His powerful right hand keeps kingdoms swollen with pride under subjection; Who hath compelled warlike cities to do homage to us, and forced nations renowned in arms under our yoke; Who hath entrusted His own inheritance to be possessed by us, whence eternal glory is reflected upon the children of Isaac. Behold the Creator of all things goeth up to His Temple, a trumpeter going before playing a lively tune, behold, He goeth up with the joyful acclamations of the people. Sing ye joyful songs to God, sing melodious songs, sing delightful songs to your King. Do ye who are skilfiul in music extol Him to the skies with your sweet songs, Who sways the sceptre of the universe and divides the kingdoms of the earth; Who directs and confines, by the salutary restraint of laws, the affairs of mortals from His splendid court of the stars. The powerful princes of the nations have betaken themselves to Him, and the commanders of the world of their own accord put their necks under His yoke. Know that our God is higher than other gods, governing the heaven and the earth and the stars by His power.
Blessed King of the heavenly host, to Whom there is nothing like or next, blessed King of the heavenly host, holy Mount Sion deservedly extols Thee to the stars with praises, Sion facing towards the dusky north, the beautiful palace of our most excellent king, Sion the delight of nations, bordering upon fruitful fields of a rich soil. The lofty walls of Jerusalem felt the power of God their defender, they felt Thy protection when kings insolent for their strength, having joined their forces and camps, combined together, threatening slavery and chains to Thy citizens. Astonishment dazzled the eyes, and horror affected the limbs of the beholders, like the throes which, when birth pains women, their plaintive pangs excite, and fear scattered them, astonished with a sudden flight, as a blast of east wind, throwing up the sea raised, even from the very bottom, scatters the affrighted ships. Our parents in former ages told these deeds to their little children, we ourselves have seen them in the city of our God, Who ruleth the world by establishes laws, we have seen them in that city over which God Himself, its vigilant keeper, watcheth. O holy Father of the universe, we invoke Thy right hand in our adversity, we fall down prostrate at Thy altars. O most excellent Governor of the world, Thy praise and the image of Thy glory and righteousness shines throughout the remotest corners of the earth. Let the hills of Zion exult when Thou art correcting the wicked with deserved strokes, nor shall the offspring of Judah conceal their joys. Go and walk round Zion, view her walls, tell her lofty towers, mark well the ditch and the bulwarks and the stately fabrics of her palaces. Tell it to your children, that ages to come may hear and be astonished, and may acknowledge and worship our God alone, not knowing either beginning or end, Who, being eternal, will protect us from deceit and violence by His continual aid.
Hear, ye nations, east and west give ear, and ye whom the day scorcheth at noon, and ye also who cleave the glassy surface of the sea with snowy wheels. Hear ye, I say, whether thou art an obscure person and a poor man of the meanest of the people, or whether thou art opulent in wealth, and shinest with a great crowd of attendants, and broodest over thy rich treasures of gold. Now will I open the fountains of wisdom, and bring forth prudence from the rich storehouse of my heart, now doth my tongue rejoice to reveal hidden oracles in a song. Why should I torment myself in heaping up riches, afraid both of famine and hard poverty, that a life, troubled with sorrowful cares, may drive me to a more sorrowful end? Behold the rich glorying in their jewels and gold and purple, who delight to soothe themselves with a pleasant dream, and believe themselves safe with their fleeting riches. A brother shall not redeem his brother from death with gold, nor prevail with God for a price or offerings to recall His decrees, so soon as the spirit hath left his cold limbs. But rich men neither can promise upon perpetual delays of death, nor that consuming time should not dissolve their putrid limbs, fatal necessity hath forbid this by a severe law. Death bends his bow equally against the foolish and the wise, a like exit from life abides both the one and the other, an unknown heir takes possession of what was gained by the greatest drudgery. They leave the short delights of their grand country seat, and their houses built with royal magnificence, and they lie under the dark recess of the grave from whence there is no return. What availeth fame gained in severe hardships? What the honour of an empty title? What the breath of flattering applause, and the ambition to transmit a name to future ages? When the short spring of empty honour hath flourished, the winter of death, breathing deadly, carrying away men and beasts in the same ruin, covers them both under a like cloud of oblivion. Fools have gone in this way, and error hath led their unwary offspring into the same track. Whom, hid under the ditch of the grave, death shall devour, as a wolf the feeble sheep. An eternal serenity of sky shall cherish pious departed souls in beam of golden light, as the radiance that in the morning runs over the meads, painted with vernal colours. Old age shall wear out the strength of fools, and a grave shall serve in place of their sumptuous dwellings. But God graciously will lift me up, rescued from the deep pit of Hell. Neither let envious desire or surprise afflict thee, if thou shouldst see one of the wicked rabble distinguished with fleeting riches, or shine conspicuous with much splendor. When unrelenting death hath laid his hand upon him, he shall carry nothing with him under the shades of such abundant wealth, and his glory, that unfaithful companion, shall forsake his tomb. Whilst the breasts are warm with the draught of the moving breath, he enjoyeth his good things, and indulgeth himself effeminately, and adviseth all to pursue the same path. But when he shall have gone to his fathers, to those realms without one ray of light, which louring horror ever overspreads, he shall long bewail his short-lived folly. Unless wisdom, the governess of honour, be added, Man is nothing different from the brute beasts, whom life maketh equal, and a like inglorious end awaits.
That sovereign Judge, Who bridles the proud necks of haughty kings by just laws, shall call the world to judgment from the rising of the sun unto its western couch. Then God, venerable with awful face, speaking from the lofty tower of beautiful Mount Zion, shall open His lips to the collective assembly of mankind. He will not suffer wicked deeds forever to pass unpunished. God shall come, the devouring violence of fire, driven with furious winds, shall go before Him. When about to deal with His own people, He will call to the stars as witnesses, who with their conscious lights look down upon all things from on high, and to the vast territories of the all-productive earth. “Come hither first,” shall He say, “o nation appropriated to Myself, a holy nation, to whom I have given a law anent the offering sacrifices in a proper manner, and I have made a perpetual Covenant. Then the sparkling heaven, admiring the equity of the Judge, shall declare God’s righteousness, for don’t doubt, God Himself shall sit judge. Hear, ye offspring of the good Abraham, a nation peculiar to Myself, I call thee witness of my personal kindness and substantial favour towards thee. I will not reprove thee, that Thou rarely sprinklest My altars with the blood of a sacrifice, or that, sparing of thy flock, thou consumest few burnt offerings in the sacred fires. I do not, as if needy, crave of thee a bullock from thy stalls, or an he-goat from thy folds. Mine is every beast which strays on the edges of the mountains, or which is concealed in the coverts of the forests. There is not any bird with speckled feathers, the inhabitant of the jovial country, neither a fowl that buildeth its nest upon the lofty retreat of a rock, in any place concealed from Me. Moreover, if I were hungry, is it forsooth necessary that I, the sovereign of heaven, earth and sea, and whatever the vast world contains in its wide extent, should seek from thee? Do I eat the flesh of a bull, or drink the blood of an he-goat? Offer thanksgiving from a sincere heart, and so shalt thou sacrifice to God acceptably with any devoted thing, without shedding blood. Moreover, when overtaken by misfortunes, with assurance call upon Me. I will bring help, that thou mayst give chearful thanks and praise the Lord, having obtained thy safety.” But God thus addresses the wicked man: “With what face canst thou rehearse My statutes? And darest thou, impure, take my holy Covenant in thy profane mouth? Thou, not suffering thyself to be governed by the reins of My laws, and a sworn enemy to My precepts and to good morals, dost praise My words with thy tongue, but mockest them in thine heart when by thyself. Thou enterest into the counsel of theft with the thief, and, being an adulterer, makest thyself partaker with adulterers. Addicted to evil-speaking, thou framest destruction with a deceitful tongue. The ties of blood, united with thy brother, do not restrain the fury of thy froward tongue, thou stainest with infamy thy brother-german conceived in the same womb. And dost you think Me like thyself, that I should pass over these thy wicked deeds? Don’t imagine it, for I will debate with thee, and set thy deeds in order before thine eyes. Consider this, ye to whom the remembrance of the deity is erazed from your blinded mind, lest, when I seize upon you, there be none who can take out of my hands what I have seized. If thou would offer unto me a valuable sacrifice, sing praises, give thanks. Hereby we go to assured life, this way lays open the gates of heaven.”
O Saviour of the universe, easy to be moved by the penitential tears of Thy supplicants, mercifully hear my prayer and wash away the foul stains of mine iniquities. Wash the pollution of my sin again and again till my body, thoroughly cleansed from its shameful spots, may shine more bright than gold refined in the furnace. For, wo is me! I acknowledge my guilt. Alas! it shames and grieves me, and the vile image of my deformity, throwing itself in the way, always presents itself before the eyes of my mind. Thou alone art witness of my secret sin, Thou, the only true Judge, refutest the wicked slanders of those who with daring boldness pass their judgment upon Thy doings. For my wickedness, even from my very birth, cleaveth to me, corrupting my infected marrow, and I have imbibed the seeds of defilement from the conception of my mother. But the sincerity of naked truth without deceit, and the purity of a steady faith, shaken with no blast of boisterous wind, is Thy delight. This Thou valuest so much that Thou hast graciously vouchsafed to me, although defiled with black crimes, a happy draught of Thy laws and hidden wisdom. Wherefore, holy Father, wash me with the sprinkling of a branch of hyssop My stains shall disappear, and my limbs, washed clean by Thee, shall exceed the snow in whiteness. If Thou, kind and favourable, sendest a glad messenger, with joy shalt Thou refresh my sorrowful heart, strength shall return to my benumbed limbs. Do not Thou always observe my failings with sharp eyes, or number my faults, but wash away the filth that cleaveth too fast to my evil transgression. O great Creator of the universe, create in me a right hart and pure from sin, renew an established spirit in the renewed palace of my heart. Neither turn Thou away Thy face from me, nor banish me far from Thy presence, neither again, provoked by vehement wrath, take away Thy holy spirit. Grant that through thee I may possess the solid joy of Thy expected salvation, still the rebellious motion of my troubled mind with Thy commanding spirit. Then shall the wicked, whom ill-advising error hath turned from Thy way, taught by my example, again perform, under my direction, the precepts of Thy laws. O my Saviour, deliver my devoted head from the guilt of this horrible murder, that I may celebrate Thee, Who art just, and in like manner merciful to forgive those who have fallen. Open Thou my lips, o God, tune Thou the silent minstrel of my tongue. then shall I publish Thy mighty deeds far abroad among all nations. If sacrifices would have pleased Thee, I would have given sacrifice. But neither do the shed blood of an he-goat, nor whole burnt-offerings thrown into the sacred flames, please Thee. A mind penitent for its frauds and crimes, broken spirits, and heart abhorring evil, these please God: bring these, and thou shalt make atonement without incense. Gracious King of the human race, do Thou, propitious, look upon Zion with that regard with which Thou wast wont, defend the towers of happy Jerusalem, flourishing in peace. Then shall the pious soul sacrifice to Thee with chaste vows, the devoted he-goat shall feed the flames, and the blood of a bullock imbue Thy burning altar.
Why, o cruel tyrant, dost thou boast in thy wicked ways? The divine clemency always watcheth over the innocent. Thy tongue, ever set on cunning, deviseth wickedness, being sharper than a razor bright polished on an hone. Crooked things delight thee more than straight, falsehoods please thee more than truth, and thou willingly lendest an ear to mischievous falsehoods. Wherefore God shall destroy and cast thee out of the society of men, and overthrow all thy house from the foundation. the righteous shall see and fear the mighty hand of God, and shall laugh at thine end becoming thy foolish insolence. “Lo, this is the man,” shall he say, “who trusted in his treasures and in his wicked ways, the man who was regardless of the deity, not standing in need of divine aid.” But I shall flourish like a green olive planted in the garden of the Lord, trusting in the gracious hope of heavenly favour. I will praise Thee forever in the holy assembly, the avenger of wicked deceit, and endure all hardships in the hope of Thy mercy.
The multitudes, having their mind defiled with the poison of scepticism, and their body contaminated with the filth of crimes, while they endeavour to draw a veil over their madness pretend that all human affairs are carried hither and thither at the will of fortune. Wherefore, having shaken off the fear of the deity, they give reins to their lewdness: they devise things wicked, vile, abominable, and they perpetrate what they devise. The Lord, from His lofty palace of the stars, cast His eye upon the earth, if perhaps He could see any not entirely corrupted with wicked tenets, who would faithfully seek the Father of all things with understanding of heart. Deceit had entangled them all in the fallacious nets of dark error, they all had polluted themselves with the same filth, neither was righteousness the care of any. Wherefore this merciful, this beneficent Parent, provoked with fierce anger, saith, “Will ever this nation, full of iniquity and filthiness, cruel in heart and wicked, which eat up My people as bread, know God? Will they ever, when in danger, acknowledge, with the light of their understanding, the Sovereign of the world?” Assuredly they shall fear what need not be feared, and guilty horror shall disturb their minds, for the Lord will both break the bones and disappoint the wicked attempts of his enemies. He will overspread their face with the foul marks of shame, He will confound their mind with infamy. Lo, shall ever the day-star, that bringeth health, usher in that day from the east, when the Lord shall bring to His own the looked-for assistance from the lofty fortress of Zion, and restore the children of Isaac to their native country, free from hostile chains, that His chosen people, affected with real joy, may sing his praises?
Father of the universe, protect and defend me from the cruel enemy, that good men may adore Thy name and the wicked dread Thy power. Graciously hear Thy suppliant nor do Thou, inexorable, shut Thine ear to my complaints. For the cruel enemy threateneth my life. The hostile enemy threatheneth my life, nor doth he perceive the avenging hand of almighty God that is stretched out against Himself. But the righteous Ruler of the world shall bring help, He will uphold me when delivered from danger, and and defend me safe. Wicked fraud shall be undone by its own devices, and they shall fall blindfold into those very snares which they had privilly laid for me. Being free from danger, I will present Thee with sacrifices, I will praise Thee, a propitious Father to the virtuous, but terrible to the wicked, Who hath granted me, free from troubles, to feast with glad eyes on the destruction of a perfidious nation.
Blessed King of the heavenly host, graciously lend an ear to me calling upon Thee in perilous circumstances, nor do Thou austerely look down with a frowning countenance upon my complaints. Attentively behold with what tumult my breast is agitated, with what groaning my pains cry out, while the violence and treachery of the cruel enemy threateneth me. A cruel tyrant threateneth my life and trumpeth up a black accusation against my reputation, and, agitated with ungovernable passion, rageth within himself. My heart trembleth, the sinews of my bones shake, the nerves being relaxed, my mind fainteth, and the ghastly image of death always stalketh before mine eyes. I say therefore thus within myself: “O that one would carry me up on the swift wings of a dove to the high regions of the clouds, or place me in the remote caves of the woods, that far from timorous care and fear, I might inhabit the lonely retirements of the mountains, and may be carried thither more swift than the winds, or the wings of glancing lightning! O God, destroy their mischievously wicked tongues, tongues infected with deadly poison, which disturb the city with falsehoods, altercations, and outrageous disputes. Whether the day pours forth its shining rays, or the night diffuseth its dusky shades, slanders keep watch on the walls, they walk abroad in every street. Violence, fury, frauds, a love of wickedness, and covetousness of gold, utterly undoing the poor people with usury, guards all the avenues of the streets. If an enemy should draw his cruel sword openly, if he should lay snares privately, if he should attack my good name with malicious tooth, I should be more indifferent. But thou, who art my principal adviser and who hath so often joined with me in the mutual participation of the holy table, dost insult over me. Do Thou, Sovereign of mankind, Who governest the world with salutary equity, bury those ringleaders of fraud and wickedness alive in the earth. But Thou wilt impartially lend an attentive ear to me, whether the day bringeth forth the sun’s rays from the ocean, or whether the day hideth these rays under the water late in the evening. Thou wilt grant that escape safe amidst hostile tumults, for the cruel enemy, relying on his brave troops and on their number, is ready to fall upon me. Thou, o Potentate of the universe, wilt without end bear down the wickedness of the wicked with deserved punishments, whose proud heart swells with stubborn passion, they who with pretended reconciliation counterfeit the dispositions of a friendly heart, but conceal the poison in their breast, nor regard the covenants made after the ancient manner. A milky stream flows from their flattering mouth, but their heart breaths cruel war, and their speech, sweeter than balsam, cutteth like a sword, by a hidden wound. Do thou commit the care of thyself to the Lord, He shall order thy steps, He shall mitigate thy pains, and with His aid shall sustain the righteous man when in straitned circumstances. Death shall, in the midst of vigorous youth, break the thread of life to the wicked, the deceitful, and him who delighteth in blood, but, good Lord, the assured hope of Thy favour shall support me.”
Creator of the world, graciously behold me whom, overthrown, my enemy both trampleth upon me with despiteful foot and, harassing with continual assaults, beareth down. Mine enemy, proud of his numbers, trampleth upon me and oppresseth me with insolent cruelty, neither doth he suffer any days to pass free from labour, nor nights free from trouble. Whether anxious fear besetteth me by day or by night, Thou, o gracious Father, remainest the only hope and pillar of my safety in adversity. Trusting in Thee alone, depending solely on Thy promises, I will neither fear the secret snares of men, nor terrifying threats, nor open war. They cavil at every word I speak and, from a wicked humour censure my actions. On this they employ all their pains, viz. that they may enterprize my ruin. And they assemble mobs, and are continually seeking after my life, partly by fraud, partly by violence. They mark my steps, nor do they omit an hour free from snares. Shall they commit so great wickedness with impunity, and shall they reap the fruit of their wicked purpose? Nor wilt Thou, o Judge of the world, drive them headlong to ruin? Thou tellest the hardships of my exile, Thou keepest my tears laid up in Thy bottle, a distinct accompt of sorrow remaineth ever with Thee. Thou givest a favourable ear to me when crying to Thee, and renderest the hopes of mine enemies vain, and Thou shewest no obscure signs of a friendly disposition and lasting favour. Trusting in Thee alone, depending solely on Thy promises, I will not fear the secret snares of men, nor terrifying threats, nor open war. I will ever praise Thee therefore, the defender of my life, with a song peculiar to my native country: safe from the sword and snares of mine enemies, I will pay my vows unto Thee. Governor of the world, I, delivered by Thee my defender, Thou establishing my going lest my feet should slip, will obey Thy command while life shall animate these limbs.
Holy Father, have pity on my perishing soul, which hath reposed all hope of its safety in Thee, and do Thou defend me, covered under Thy wings, until the fury of this boisterous tempest is abated. I cry unto Thee, I call upon Thee, which is my only resource in necessitous circumstances, and in an humble manner I implore Thy protection. I cry unto Thee, Who repayest Thy promises to me with increase, and bringest my undertakings to a happy issue, Who wilt sent me help from heaven, and deliver me from the jaws of the enemy just ready to devour me; Who, mindful both of Thy promise and wonted kindness, will bring help from the most holy place of the highest heaven. For I dwell among lions remarkable for their fierceness, I live among beasts that breathe fire, whose tongue cutteth sharper than the cruel sword, their teeth than arrows or the point of a spear. O God, shew forth Thy divine presence from the heaven above, display to the world a ray of Thy glory. They have spread their nets for my feet, the cruel enemy oppresseth me, who am quite cast down to the earth and, having digged pits, they have blocked up my way, but they themselves shall fall blindfold into those pits prepared for me. My soul, invincible by misfortunes, the vigour of my mind entire, will praise Thee, Governor of the world, with the voice, will praise Thee with the harp. Well, come, my soul, cares aside, and thou, my melodious harp, with my psalteries, awake. Sooner than the day-star calleth up the morning rays, than aurora awakeneth the songs, of birds, gracious Father, I will praise Thee. I thy bard will publish Thy deeds over all nations wheresoever the earth extends. For Thy goodness reacheth above the top of the starry heaven, and Thy faithfulness above the regions of the clouds. O God, shew forth Thy divine presence from the sparkling heaven, manifest a ray of Thy glory to the world.
Ye who deliver laws from your lofty tribunal, who manage the reins of the laws, will it ever be that you determine with impartial judgment in the causes of poor people? Nay, but they contrive wickedness and deceit in their wicked heart, they cover an unjust action under the shadow of justice, they throw a colour of virtue over their shameful deeds. They gradually follow after the way of wickedness from their mother’s womb, and the desire of pursuing crooked paths groweth up step by step with their tender years. They carry poison in their pestilentious tongue, and they shut their ears to counsel, as the cunning adder, which dreads magical charms, stops her ears. O God, break their jaws, bruise their impudent mouth by breaking their teeth, and restrain those lion whelps, gaping with cruel jaws. The darts they have thrown shall fall by the way, having their points broken, nor shall they cause a wound, and they themselves shall suddenly disappear as water among the imbibing sand. As a slow-paced snail, let them insensibly melt away, let them leave the vital light by an untimely death, like a foetus which perisheth before its birth. Let the raging violence of a whirlwind take away their progeny in the very flower of their age, before that the tender spring shoots forth its thorns and extends wide its branches, abounding in sharp prickles. The righteous, rejoicing, shall behold the issue of the punishment of the avenger, and a river of the blood of the wicked under their feet. Mankind shall know that the rewards of a well-spent life do await the righteous, but they shall know that punishments await the wicked, and that there is God, the righteous Judge of the world.
Sovereign of the world, deliver me from the cruelty of mine enemy, ward off the violence of those who are forever cruelly fighting against me. Protect me from the wicked, who rejoice in innocent blood, who treacherously lay secret snares for my life. They willingly join all their counsels against the head of the innocent. Arise and hie Thee to oppose their most wicked endeavours. Do Thou, o Ruler of mankind and of the heavenly hosts, Who always embracest the pious with a peculiar affection, arise, restrain the wicked nations by punishment, nor spare Thou the perfidious, Who think much of themselves, when they have perpetrated their wicked deeds. From the rising sun unto the evening they shall walk about the crossways, and insolently make a noise like dogs barking. They cry nothing but wine, a sword, blood and wounds, and what they speak before all the world they imagine can be secretly buried in oblivion. Thou, Lord, the ever present defence of my life, shalt laugh at their vain rage, and wilt defend me with Thy right hand. Thou art my stay, my strength, and the fortress of my confidence, wherefore I will wait with a calm mind in the hope of Thine aid. Thou wilt prevent imminent dangers by Thine assistance, and the pride of mine enemies being humbled by afflictions, I shall enjoy that glad sight. Yet destroy not the wicked altogether at one blow, lest the upright neglect righteousness through a forgetful inactivity, but let wandering scatter them as vagabonds to the remotest corners of the earth, and do Thou, by Thy right hand, protect the seed of the righteous. Consume the ungodly seed for the insolence of their mouth and the deadly poison of their tongue, their lies, and their perjuries, pluck them up from the lowest root in the heat of Thy righteous fury, that the farthermost parts of the world may know that God is the avenger of the righteous. From the rising sun unto the evening, they shall walk about the crossways and wantonly make a noise like dogs barking. Wandering here and there that they may procure a little food, let them seek their bed late in the evening, wanting that little food. I, meanwhile, will praise my God, the almighty and the gracious defender, and the faithful protector of His own people when in dangerous circumstances. I will praise my God, Who supporteth me with courage, supplieth me with strength, sustaineth me by His bounty, and defendeth me like a brazen tower.
Holy Father, Thou, offended by our sins, hath scattered us, driven away and oppressed with hardships, do Thou, appeased and merciful, come, and now, unmindful of Thine anger, return, o Author of our salvation, to Thine own people. All the ground gapeth with chinks, Thou shaking it: close these chinks and repair the shaken ground. Thou hast given to Thy nation, with a cup of intoxicating fear, to behold disagreeable spectacles. But at length, taking pity on them terrified and void of courage, Thou wilt display a banner of safety that they who fear Thee, depending on Thy faithful oracles, may make bold again to raise their head, sunk thro’ fear, and that Thou, being present, mayst deliver Thine own from the terror of cold death and, bringing help, mayst hear them calling. God hath heard, and from the most secret abode of the sparkling heaven uttered His voice, the forerunner of joy: “Lo, I will divide to thee thy fruitful fields of Sechem, I will mete out the valley of Succoth with a measure of ten feet long. Are not the children of Jacob subject unto Me, whosoever either mows the fields with cattle or cleaveth them with the plow? So I will trample the towns of proud Syria under My feet, Moab, Edom, and the dwellings of Palestine.” What leader will open to me the way to the fortified places? Who will destroy the walls ;of the wealthy Edom? Who but Thou, o God alone, the guardian of our nation, Who, offended by our obstinate sins, hadst left us to be oppressed by our enemies, nor didst Thou go forth as leader before our armies when rushing unto the battle, as formerly. Now, Father, graciously lend Thine aid in our difficulties. Human hope, being false, deceiveth the credulous. Thou being our leader, we, having our temples adorned with the victorious laurel, shall trample the pride of our enemies under foot.
Graciously hear me calling upon Thee, o God, and, being attentive, give ear unto my prayers. If banished to the remotest parts of the world, I will have recourse to Thee in my difficulties. Place me on the lofty summit of a rock, far from danger. For constantly trusting in the hope of Thine aid, I was safe from the attack of the enemy as under the protection of a fortified tower. Grant that I may ever dwell in Thy tabernacle, and may be covered under Thy wings, Who mercifully givest ear to my prayers, Who bringeth my desires to a happy issue. Thou givest me to sway the sceptre over the heritage of those that fear Thee. Thou, lengthening out the time of the king’s life, addest ages to the ages past. Stretch out Thy liberal hand in every event, that the king in safety may ever worship Thee, and grant that he may have the enjoyment of Thy promises, with the assurance Thou wast wont. And then, free from threatning dangers, I will praise Thee with my voice, I will praise with the sweet harp, Who keepest thy Covenant and art liberal to Thine own, and I will constantly bring oblations to Thine altar.
My soul resteth entirely in God. From Him is the hope of my salvation, this is my fortress in the midst of danger. Being safe under this protection, I will be moved at no attack. How long will ye attempt with hidden fraud to subvert an innocent person? And you yourselves, being presently about to suffer punishment, not foreseeing your end just approaching, lean downward upon ruin, as upon a rotten wall whose stones have been loosed. And in the meantime, ye apply all the powers both of body and mind to this end, ye please yourselves with vain fictions in order that, being wicked, ye may molest the upright in his progress. Ye curse privately in your secret breast, but praise openly with deceitful tongue. But do thou nevertheless, o my soul rest in God. From Him is the hope of my salvation, this is my fortress in the midst of danger, being safe under this protection I will be moved at no attack. From Him dependeth the hope of my life and glory, and the assurance of strength. Under whatsoever region of heaven thou dwellest, o people, to him commit thy estate, thy offspring, thy family, and gladly present and declare to Him all thy griefs of mind, and thou shalt always perceive His divinity present to all thy undertakings. The boasted power of kings and princes is vainer than vanity, and so much lighter than smoak, that if you put the powers of all princes in this scale, and emptiness in that, emptiness will outweigh them all together. Hope not that what is got by violence can be secure, nor trust too confidently to vain force. Do riches plenteously abound? Abandon not thy heart credulously to prosperity. Once has He declared, nay, oftener than once have we heard God declaring it, that He alone is omnipotent, that He alone is good, and the only Governor of the universe, gracious always and merciful to the good, and terrible to the wicked.
O God, the author and guardian of my safety, Thee I adore, even when the rosy day chases away the stars. For Thee my mind pants, my languid members thirst as the parched earth demands a shower of rain. Though in sultry heat I inhabit parched lands, yet my soul sees the Lord present, no otherways than if I beheld the secret recesses which conceal the monuments of Thy divinity. Nor is life so sweet as the goodness with which Thou protectest and accompaniest my life. Therefore, though at a distance in places remote, safe in Thy protection, I will celebrate Thee. Whatever years Thou shalt grant my life, they shall sound the praises of Thy name, nor does food so much refresh my body as celebrating Thy praises exalts my soul. Thou art my song by night, thou art my song in the morning, Thou, present always, bringest me help when alarmed. I rest secure under Thy wings, and far from cares I will sing Thee and Thy acts. My mind seeks Thee, it worships Thee, it doats on Thee. Thou, gracious Father, supportest me with Thy powerful hand. But those who endeavour through villainy to destroy me, a ruin worthy of their wicked designs shall overtake. They shall pour forth their execrable souls by the sword, they shall give their members to be torn by hungry wolves. The king, and whoever in a proper manner worship the deity, shall gladly acknowledge the avenging God, but the ungodly, who from a foolish confidence were puffed with their fleeting good things, being astonished with fear, shall be silent.
Holy Father, hear not sternly the prayers of one demanding aid in trouble, and rescue his life from the artifices of the deceitful enemy. A faction of wicked men assaults me with concealed knavery, the abandoned conspire and rage with savage purposes. Do Thou, my gracious conductor, deliver me. They whet their tongues like swords, they aim the detestable words of their pestilential mouth as darts envenomed with poison, that they may wound the upright in heart from their lurking-places. They also securely, with greedy mind, devise mischief, neither fear they that there will be any avenger of the evil deed. They plan in their imaginations horrible wickedness, and with cruel purpose prepare snares, then say among themselves, “None shall know them.” Their inclination, understanding, wit, purpose, toil, conspire to contrive new sorts of crimes and frauds, this has been their only study. But the mighty hand of God shall strike them suddenly with a swift point of a dart, and shall inflict mortal wounds with unerring dexterity. Chilling fear shall seize the beholders when they see the mischievous poison of a venomous tongue produce dreadful destruction to its author. Mankind shall acknowledge the strength of Thy right hand, shall extol it with deserved praises, and shall admire the penetration of Thy profound wisdom. The hope of the just shall raise his courage, and, safe under the protection of God, he shall shout for joy, and the hearts that rejoice in simple truth shall bound.
Praises wait for Thee in Sion, o God. Here Thine own nation, busied in performing their holy rites, shall pay their vows to Thee, and shall stain Thine altars with victims. And the nations lying under each pole of the world shall seek Thee, Who so readily grantest happy issues to the requests of Thy suppliants. At present our wicked deeds pursue us with deserved punishments, but Thou, easily prevailed on by our complaints, wilt break the grievous chains of our slavery. O thrice happy, o more than thrice happy they whom Thou shalt chuse and make Thy select friends, that in purity they may inhabit the courts of the Temple dedicated Thee. O that happy day, a day fraught with every blessing, which shall place us, after our return, in Thy consecrated house, it shall satisfy our troubled breast with joy. Thou, o God, the hope of the utmost ends of the earth, and of the sea encompassing the most distant lands with its waters, shall graciously redress our grievances. Then shall astonishment shake the hearts of those who behold Thee, o God, the support of our salvation, severe to the wicked, merciful to the distressed, just to all. Thou, the potentate of the universe and possessed of inconceivable strength, establisheth the ridges of mountains with a durable chain, and their tops beaten with turbulent blasts. Thou smoothest the surface of the sea, tossed with bleak winds, thou restrainest the rebellious commotions of nations, and changest the noise of war into calm peace. The uttermost borders of the world know and are afraid at Thy tokens, especially when heaven, bursting with glittering flames, resounds in loud peals of thunder. And those who dwell at the rising of the son, and those whose waters Phoebus dyes with his evening torch, gladly acknowledge Thee the Creator of day and night. Thou graciously visitest the face of the earth when thirsting for a shower, and from the bosom of the teeming cloud pourest the genial moisture on barren fields. The channel of the waters, always swollen with full flood, renews the fields with gladsome corn, the plain with flowers, the green retreats of the forest with the leaf. Thou softenest the soil of obstinate land with mild dew, and subduest the clods, Thou shadest the drunken furrows with the verdant dress of harvest. Whithersoever Thou shalt move Thy steps, Thou shalt renew the year fertile of fruits, and rain shall descend, quickening nature’s productions, along the hollow vallies and the watered lawns. The poor cottager, while he accompanies his goats distended with milk, shall leap for joy, the hills and the woods, friendly to wearied steers, shall bellow. Nutritive corn, floating in the spacious plains, shall cherish the eager hopes of the ploughman, that keeping holy-day, he may sing to Thee a song in the festive shade.
Ye inhabitants of all lands, from the rising of the sun to his most distant couch, come, sing unto the Lord His name, His divinity raise to the stars with praises. Say unto Him, “Holy Governour of the world, how amazing is the glory of Thy works! How great the power wherewith Thou compellest Thy stubborn foes, their mind subdued, suppliant to kneel!” Let the whole system of the universe gladly honour Thee its Author, let it humbly adore Thee, the omnipotent. Let us sing to Thee with sweet voice, let us sound with the pleasing lute and with the music of songs. Come hither, view His works, which are to be admired by all ages, and carefully examine the works of a provident Parent, the works of the Lord, providing with wonderful skill for His obedient servants. He turned the tempestuous sera into plains of parched sand, he made a troop of rejoicing travellers pass across the channel of a river, as over dry fields, while the current stood still. He alone bridleth the world with eternal reins, He beholdeth both the pious and the wicked. Nor permits He those that rebel against Him, depending on their haughty forces, to enjoy their wicked wishes. Praise be to our God throughout all regions of the world, let every nation praise Him alone. He alone delivered us from approaching death, He alone sustains us, when delivered, in a firm step. Thou hast tried us by hard stripes, as gold by the fire. Thou hast died us to the nets of our enemies. Thou hast put chains on our loins, and bits in our jaws, under tyrants of abusive sway, yet exercised (as we were) both through fires and through waters, Thou hast notwithstanding given us the fruitfulness of a plentifully country. Therefore I will enter Thy Temple a suppliant and slay victims. A suppliant, I will offer vows, vows addressed in pressing dangers. A fat lamb, and a ram the parent of a lamb, a bullock and an he-goat shall stain Thine altars with their blood, nor shall frankincense of Sabaean growth be wanting. Come hither, all ye who fear God, while I declare the goodness of God towards me. He heard me instantly when calling, let us who call upon a hearing God serve Him with praises. The Governor of the world, with deaf ear, rejects suppliants who are guilty of abominable wickedness, but to me, when supplicating He, gracious and kind, always lends no unfavourable ear. I give thanks to this best Parent, who has shewn Himself not severe to his petitioner, who of His goodness never left him destitute in distress.
Ruler of the world, mercifully and graciously spare our offences, and with Thy wonted favour make the earth nourish the corn and cattle in joyous fields, that Thy goodness may be known throughout all lands, and Thy concern for our safety, whom Thou carest for with paternal tenderness, and protectest in adversity, that people throughout all lands may proclaim Thy praises, and that the fame of Thy goodness may be celebrated through all cities, even to the extremities of the universe. Let every place bound, let every age rejoice with acclamation and auspicious mirth, because Thou conductest human affairs with the reins of impartial justice, that people throughout all lands may proclaim Thy praises, and that the fame of Thy goodness may be celebrated throughout all cities, even to the extremity of the universe. If Thou, gracious Creator of the world, mercifully favourest Thine own nation, harvest shall cover the fields, vines and olives the hills, grass the plains. If Thou, gracious Creator of the world, mercifully favourest Thine own nation, the nations lying under each pole of the world shall fear and worship Thee.
O Thou Who rulest the world with perpetual reins, graciously display a mild countenance, and impiety, which abhors thy laws, most excellent Father, shall instantly disappear, as the light vapour of smoke vanisheth into subtile air, as wax melted by the fire. But with cheerful minds the pious multitude shall testify their joys by acclamation, and shall sing hymns to Thee, holy Parent of the universe, Who ridest on the shining constellations of heaven, and, uncircumscribed by periods of time, governest the world by eternal laws, Thyself too eternal. Thee we gladly sing, and renew our glad honours, Who, from the summit of the lofty world, regardest human concerns, and treatest with paternal affection orphans and widows, Who comfortest barren marriages with blessed offspring, looses those bound with fetters, coverest the fields of the rebellious people with thirsty sand. When the Israelites, having left the Nile under Thy conduct, wandered among the inhospitable rocks of the Arabians, the inmost parts of the ground shook, the heaven grew moist with showers of short-breathing sweat, terrified at the countenance of the Lord, the tops of rocky Sinai trembled. The good God waters with plentiful rain the fields chosen for Himself, and when, wasted, they chaff, He fattens them and refreshes them when distressed, and he gives them to be enjoyed by His flock, nor leaves He virtue necessitous in hard times. When arms shall shake the resolution of men with the sudden fear of war, He shall grant to tender virgins to celebrate the festive triumph, and He shall furnish songs for His own praises. Kings depending on a numerous army shall turn their backs and seek for lurking-places, and the unwarlike crowd shall enjoy the abandoned spoils. Though in sleep your bodies lie among the pots black with soot, yet they shall excel in splendour the dove glistering with the beauties of its brilliant neck, which sometimes challenges the bright silver, and sometimes the colour of the mildly-sparkling gold. When the omnipotent God exposed troops of kings to public shame in a long triumphal procession, Jerusalem, which before lay loathsome with mourning and darkness, then shone with snowy light, as the top of Salmon, white with snow, shines among the neighbouring mountains. Bashan may be ever so vain, and haughtily boast of its summit reaching to heaven, but let it not presume to compare its verdant forests, nor its pastures, to sacred Sion, which the almighty Father hath chosen as His peculiar habitation forever, and He will defend his chosen habitation, even that Father Whom so many thousands of heavenly chariots, so many thousands of horses, attend. Whether He rides along the top of towering Sinai or visits His own holy place, or whether as the avenger of crimes He chuses the heavens for his grand triumphal procession and drags along captive necks bound with chains, conquered nations everywhere bring presents, those who a little before were rebels now with bended knee worship the Temple of Zion. Therefore we justly celebrate Thy honours, Who sufferest no day to pass us without some benefit to us. Thou art the only hope of our salvation, for Thou alone managest the reins of life, Thou alone holdest the bars of Hell, whence there is no return, and the fates follow Thy nod. Thou piercest Thine enemies with unerring wound, Thou with a deadly blow cleavest the temples of those that are buried in the ancient filth of their crimes. But thus Thou comfortest thy beloved friends, “From the uttermost shore of the sea, I will lead you back safe from the cruel foe, as We preserved you, conducted over the straits of the Red Sea, safe from the savage Og.” They shall dip their legs in the blood of slain kings, dogs shall lick thine enemies wounds. They shall behold, gracious Father, the parade of the joyous procession. Thy triumph, gracious Father, those who seek the Temple shall applaud. The vocal music, those who strike the cymbal, the trumpet accompanied with the harp, and the flute with the trumpet, and virgins taught to strike the tabret [tambourine] to celebrate Thy praises, o most mighty, shall precede. The people in the congregation, with acclamatory shouting and applause, shall extol Thee to the stars, and the Israelites shall open their mouths in Thy praises. The youth spring from the stock of Benjamin, and the noble lineage of Judah shall be present, nor shall the illustrious Zebulon and the Naphthalian leaders be absent. For Thou suppliest both strength and courage to those that follow Thy orders, and grantest them to surround their honoured temples with the victorious laurel. Swift-winged victory flies from the sacred recesses of Jerusalem. Therefore kings shall bring Thee presents, and, bringing presents to thy Temple, shall exalt Thee above the stars. Thou routest the troops that depend on their mortal arrows, Thou subduest strong right hands and rebellious hearts, Thou compellest the leaders, humble and vanquished, to pay Thee tribute, and as an avenger Thou destroyest the troops of the blood-thirsty people. Both those who drink the Nile, where it is swallowed up by the waves of the sea, and those who drink it at the very rising of its source, shall flock to Thee and seek peace, bearing rich presents in their suppliant right hand. Praise God, ye kingdoms of men, give songs to the King Who, eternal, governs the eternal Temples of heaven, Whose voice all mortals, trembling, dread. Celebrate Him as valiant, and to Him alone ascribe the received successes of a well-managed war, Whose glory shines forth in the Israelites, Whose strength the clouds attest, from Whose secret Temple a sacred dread seizes upon astonished minds. He is the God of the Israelites, the God Who fills the nerves [sinews] of His own people with strength, and their hearts with vigour. Ye race of Jacob, ascribe praises to Him, for He is the God of gods.
Holy Parent, bright help to me, who am quite spent: floods of misfortunes have almost buried me in their rushing waves. My foot cannot fix its steps in the yielding mud, and the billow flowing over my head drives me along with it. Whilst I cry, scorching thirst burns my parched jaws. Mine eyes, wearied with looking out, are become languid. Enemies harass and pursue me with savage hatred, being more in number than the hairs that shade my temples, and they daily increase in number, and I am compelled by violence to return them that were lawfully purchased, as if I only restored plundered goods. My sincerity is known to Thee, gracious Creator of the world, and Thou art always a witness of my innocence. Gracious Father, see Thou that my losses bring not shame upon the virtuous, while they behold those who worship Thee oppressed with misfortune. For Thy sake, I have born the reproaches and mockery of the rabble, for Thy sake base shame has covered my face. My brethren shun me, and those born of the same mother detest me as a miscreant. I burn, and rage boils my very vitals, while the ungodly neglect Thy laws and ceremonies. What reproaches and revilings they throw out against Thy sacred rites fall upon me and wound my heart. If fasting I weep, if I torment my breast with cares, they laugh and treat my tears with reproaches. If I cover my neglected limbs with dirty sackcloth, I instantly become a tale and a laughing-stock. The aged greet me in the entry of the gate with gives, and I am the song of the drunken tavern. In the mean time, spent with bitter cares, o Father, I fly to Thee, do Thou graciously behold me. O Father, infinitely good, faithful without fraud, vouchsafe Thy salutary hand to me in straits. Raise me, almost ingulphed in the mid, give me to establish my way, snatch me from the rage of the cruel enemy. Neither let the violence of the rapid stream carry me along, nor the deep bury me, nor the gulf swallow me up. Holy Parent, Whose mercy knows no bounds, look upon me, calling and forlorn. Turn not away Thy face from Thy servant, who, a suppliant, implores Thy aid in necessitous circumstances, raise up speedily the miserable. Graciously be present, save this life, that shame may cover mine enemies, who kill me with reproaches as one utterly forsaken. Thou art witness of my disgrace and their prideful reproach, Thou art witness how wantonly mine enemies abuse me. Grief burnt up my heart, I had none to share my grief, none to soothe my anxious grief. Thy mixed my favourite dishes with bitter gall, for wine they reached me cups of vinegar. Therefore in return let wolfsbane infect their food, and let sadness darken their chearful banquets. From the quarter they promise themselves the security of meek-eyed peace, thence let the seeds of discord spring up to them. Let their eyes be darkened, and let their footsteps be unstable, let strength forsake their feeble body. Pour out Thy anger on them, thus deserving it, let Thy fury devour them, let their houses, destitute of inhabitants mourn, let none remain to inhabit their deserted tents, because they persecute those afflicted with Thy right hand. Wantonly insulting the afflicted and miserable, they embitter the wounds with their words and insults. Permit Thou them to heap sins on sins, or let them ever feel the sweet fruit of Thy righteousness. Erase their impious names from the registers of the living, neither insert Thy sons among them. Raise me, low and afflicted by Thy right hand, most excellent Father, and set me safe in a secure place. Here with songs I will extol above the stars the Parent of the universe, and will give thanks in the crouded assembly. This is more acceptable to Him than if the tender calf, already beginning to but with its horns, should fall a sacrifice at the altar. The meek shall se it, and shall revolve joys in their breasts, the glad hearts of those that worship God shall exult. For the Lord heareth the poor, neither despiseth He the distressed, confined with chains for His name’s sake. Therefore let earth, and sea, and air, and whatever earth, sea and air contain, worship Him alone, Who maketh beauteous Sion flourish in safety, and encompasseth the cities of Judah with new ramparts, and measureth out to His peasants farms before uncultivated, which they may leave to be possessed by their smiling children, which a line of descendants may possess in quiet peace, whosoever of them worship the name and divinity of the Lord.
O God be present, and snatch me from present dangers. O God, haste immediately to alleviate my rugged toils by Thy assistance. Let them blush who seek my life, let them bear disgraceful infamy, and let them grieve on account of their base flight, who assault me with malicious purposes. Let them turn their backs, that shame may gall them, routed, who laugh at my groans. And may they enjoy Thee, merciful and placable, who rejoice in Thy statutes. Let those who have placed the stedfast hope of their salvation altogether in Thee, the only God, rejoice, and let them always sing, “Eternal majesty and honour be to God.” My strength and abilities are weak, but do Thou, o God, help me. Thou art my strength, my hope, and my help, quickly bring me aid.
In Thee I have placed the hope of my salvation, see that everlasting shame cover me not. Mildly hear me calling, and snatch me from the violence of a bloody enemy. Guardian and support of my life, and always my tower in adversity, now be a tower and refuge to me, and deliver me from the right hand of my raging foes. Deliver me, depending on Thy sole assistance, from the violence of a wicked right hand, and Thou who was the guardian of my youth, maintain my helpless old age by Thy strength. Thou hast deigned to protect me from my mother’s breast. From the breast of my mother my hope has depended on Thee, thy praise alone is the perpetual matter of my songs. I am laughed at by the wicked, as a monster produced to bear continual evils, but the alone hope of Thy protection sustaineth me, covered with billows of evils. The light shall see me, the darkness shall see me singing Thy praises. Deliver me not, now heavy with age, and with a body feeble by its strength being broken, to the lust of the impious. They both secretly whisper, and, through villany, spread concealed nets for my life, and while they hide their wicked intention, they say, “God hath left him destitute of help. Press on him, weakened, take him, destroy him, when undefended by the assertor of his salvation.” O God, leave me not, who dependeth on Thy protection, but presently snatch me from my savage foes. Let blushing stain with shame the countenance of the guileful enemy who hunteth me with villanous fraud, let him mourn his baffled attempts, let him lament the unsuccessful issue. Free from dangers, I, in a new song, will celebrate Thee Who art tenacious of Thy promise and ready to help Thine own, and I will set Thy countless praises to my numbers. I will sing Thee, Who art able to give prosperous events, when the fear of war hath raged. I will sing Thee, Who art faithful to perform the promises of Thy covenants, not without large interest. Even from the first blossom of childhood, Thou hast always taught me the songs of Thy praises, desert me not, o my hope, now when I am heavy with age and grey-haired, till ages of successors know, I myself being bard, with what strength and with what fidelity Thou hast delivered me. The glory of Thy justice flieth over the vault of the world. Creator of the universe, who is like unto Thee, who plungest me into a gulph of evils, and graciously givest me, drawn out of this deep gulph, again to enjoy a pleasant life. Thine anger abated, thou graciously heapest on me wealth and honours, and soothest my troubled breast. Therefore I will praise Thee on the harp and on the psaltery, Who art remarkable for firm fidelity. O holy protector of our nation from its first rise, my voice shall praise Thee, my soul and my life, exempted from hard toils, shall extol Thee with praises. No day shall usher in the golden sun which shall not hear me proclaiming Thy righteousness, gracious King, Who shalt have overspread the countenances of mine enemies with shame.
O God, give to the king to execute judgment after the pattern of Thy righteousness, and to the king’s son, that he may manage the reins of the laws to the safety of his country, that he may govern the people by just decrees, receive the complaints of the poor with a favourable ear, and determine differences by impartial laws, so that the tops of the mountains and the gloomy forests may rejoice in peace; that equity, the mother of quiet, may love the hills, and the hardy natives of the country; that he may give to the poor their right, take care that the low be not oppressed by the violence of the powerful, and destroy him whosoever he be that oppresseth the miserable with enveigling law-suits; that the generation of future time may fear Thy name, till the sun shall exhaust his light on the day, and the moon her light on the night. Let justice and righteousness, coming from heaven, refresh the smiling beauties of the country. Let righteousness flourish, he conducting the reins of government. Let welcome peace increase while the moon, revolving in a perpetual course, shall monthly renew her face. Let the water of the sea with its billows terminate the bounds of his empire on every side, and the space which sets bounds to his extensive kingdom, let the same be the end of the world. Let the Ethiopian fall prostrate at his feet. Let his enemies, humbly shewing for pardon with their humbled countenances and hair, sweep the dust. Those who possess the sea, and the islands of the ebbing and flowing sea, and the happy kingdom of the Arabs, and the Sabeans, rich in frankincense, shall come bearing gifts. Kings shall worship and fear him where the sea roars in the remotest lands, nations lying under each pole of the world shall serve him. He shall raise the helpless, he shall deliver complainers from their troubles, he shall give the right hand to the poor and needy, and shall discharge the loaded with debt. Nor shall he permit the blood of the poor people to be shed, as if it were of no value. Therefore may he live, and take presents from the plentiful treasures of the Arabs. And, praying for much happiness for their king, let the people sing his praises, let them honour him, let them celebrate his bounteous hand and adore him as a father. May the earth produce corn on the wild mountains, rattling with beards as thick, as the winds scourge with hoarse murmur the cedars of Lebanon. May blissful peace increase the progeny without number along the streets of the happy city, as the verdant grass, after a shower, rises in watered plains. Let his name flourish in eternal youth, and his son’s name, as long as the beam of the sun shall pour sparkling rays of flame on the earth. That king shall make all nations happy which the sea encompasseth in its fluctuating bosom, every land surrounded by the sea shall sing him blessed. Praise, honour and power be to the Lord and the God of Isaac’s race. Wanting no assistance, He alone performeth those works which all behold with astonishment. Let every age praise His sacred name, which let no length of time ever forget in silence. Let the glory of His holy name spread over the whole earth.
Go to Psalm LXXIII