Psalm 70 – O Lord, Make Haste to Help Me!
The first two lines of this psalm serve as the familiar versicle that opens most choral offices of the Liurgy of the Hours. Succinct in expression, the psalm clearly conveys the speaker’s pressing need for divine assistance; both the opening and the closing verses employ forms of the word “haste,” enclosing the text as an urgent plea from the midst of mortal danger (v. 3). The Psalmist confesses that God is both rescuer and helper, his only hope in this perilous situation. The last line, “do not delay,” conveys a tone of anxious tension as the Psalmist awaits God’s saving response. Even in its brevity this psalm expresses a fundamental posture of faith: waiting for God. Throughout the Old Testament, one encounters situations in which people are waiting for God to take action on their behalf, to demonstrate the divine favor towards them. Is this not the essential posture of all persons and peoples of faith? We know that we cannot depend on merely human resources for deliverance from the situations we face; all too often we come up against our utter inability to avoid or alter some apparent calamity that upsets our life. And then, somehow, we find that what we had seen as a calamity has somehow enabled us to understand our experience in a new light. That is the mysterious work of God. It is God alone, after all, who knows the heart of each of us, and can move our hearts to perceive with the eyes of faith. How well St. Paul knew this posture of waiting, of longing for God to bring about in his own life the mysterious working of grace. As Saul the Pharisee, he had the firm conviction that his desire to destroy the new Way of Jesus was motivated by authentic religious belief; but with many trials and much suffering, a more powerful movement of grace eventually changed his heart and his name, finally bringing the Apostle Paul to pray that God would “make haste to help him” to preach the message he had once opposed, that it might be firmly planted in the hearts of those who heard God’s message of love through him.
1 For the Choirmaster. Of David. A Memorial.
2 O Gód, cóme to my assístance;
O Lórd, make háste to hélp me!
3 Lét there be sháme and confúsion
on thóse who séek my lífe.
O lét them turn báck in confúsion,
who delíght in my hárm;
4 let them retréat, cóvered with sháme,
who jéer at me and móck.
5 O lét there be rejóicing and gládness
for áll who séek you.
Let them sáy forever, “Gód is gréat,”
who lóve your saving hélp.
6 As for mé, wrétched and póor,
hasten to mé, O Gód.
Yóu are my réscuer, my hélp;
O Lórd, do not deláy.
Prayer for Psalm 70
O God, whose marvels and wonders move us to place our confidence in you, hear us in our time of need. Hasten to our rescue and show us once again your merciful love which always exceeds our meager expectations, through Christ our Lord. Amen.