Sometimes the Bible leaves me cold. Sometimes even scripture I love turns me off. Sometimes I don’t like the God I meet there. So it was for me this week. I started reading the part of Psalm 66 assigned for next Sunday. I got to verse 9 and began to twitch. “You tried us like silver.” Is this the God I know–God who tests and tries her children?
But I read on–on to verse 10: “You brought us into the snare. You laid heavy burdens on us.” Really–the suffering God? the loving God? the God who comes to the disciples through doors closed from grief and despair?
And yet this God who lays burdens on his children is a God I hear about from others. “God does everything for a reason.” “God wouldn’t give me anything I couldn’t handle.” “God wanted my baby close to him and so God brought my baby home.” That’s not the God I know. That’s not the God of love.
But that’s the God one meets in parts of psalm 66–at least the version of that psalm that appears in the Book of Common Prayer.
Yesterday, I got annoyed. I went looking for other versions of that psalm. You’ll find them in the text that follows this mini-rant. They helped me get beyond the stumbling block, and they raised for me important questions about the voices I hear in scripture and the voices that are silenced.
Psalm 66: 7-18 The Book of Common Prayer
Bless our God, you peoples; *
make the voice of his praise to be heard;
Who holds our souls in life, *
and will not allow our feet to slip.
For you, O God, have proved us; *
you have tried us just as silver is tried.
You brought us into the snare; *
you laid heavy burdens upon our backs.
You let enemies ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water; *
but you brought us out into a place of refreshment.
I will enter your house with burnt-offerings
and will pay you my vows, *
which I promised with my lips
and spoke with my mouth when I was in trouble.
I will offer you sacrifices of fat beasts
with the smoke of rams; *
I will give you oxen and goats.
Come and listen, all you who fear God, *
and I will tell you what he has done for me.
I called out to him with my mouth, *
and his praise was on my tongue.
If I had found evil in my heart, *
the Lord would not have heard me;
But in truth God has heard me; *
he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
Blessed be God, who has not rejected my prayer, *
nor withheld his love from me.
PSALM 66: 7-13 FROM REJOICE, BELOVED WOMAN!
Rendered by Barbara J. Monda
All creation, Bless our Mother, Chokmah. She keeps us
Alive in her embrace.
You have tested, refined, and transformed us. Like silver, we
You have given us suffering, trapped us in our own prisons,
And set burdensome guides over us. These are all ways of
We passed through torrents and flames and received
Insight. Freedom is your gift.
I will keep the promises I made while being tested. I will
Return gifts to you.
You have held me, and saved me, Chokmah. I will use my
Mouth and my body to praise you.
Praise to the God who listened to my pleadings and did not
Reject me. Praise to the God who is constant in her love.
PSALM 66: 7-18 FROM PSALMS FOR PRAYING: AN INVITATION TO WHOLENESS rendered by Nan C. Merrill
Bless the Beloved, Heart of our hearts,
let the sound of our praises
You keep us attuned to life and
guide our feet on solid ground.
For You, O Love, have tested us;
You have tried us as silver is
You have allowed us to fall into
You have watched us reap all that
we have sown’
we went through fire and
Yet You have brought us through our
into your dwelling place.
I enter your Heart surrendered
I commend my soul into your
all that my lips uttered, all that
my mouth promised when
I was in trouble and pain,
I offer up to You;
I abandon myself into your hands.
Come and hear, all you who reverence
the Most High,
and I shall tell what the Beloved
has done for me.
I cried aloud to the Silent Watcher
of my life;
from my tongue came forth words
Had I cherished greed and power,
I would have separated myself
the voice of my prayer was heard.
Blessed be the holy Name of the Beloved,
Loving Companion Presence,
who embraced me, and renewed