Prayer from death’s door
I’m alone and hurting
Anguished and pleading prayer of someone weakened by suffering.1 LORD, please listen to me.
Please let me talk to you.
2 Don’t block my calls.
Not in the middle of my emergency.
When I call on you like this
Please answer right away.
3 My life has faded to nothing
Like smoke in the air.
My bones burn with pain
Like the heat of a blaze.
4 My body is weak
And withered like grass.
I don’t want food anymore.
5 I groan in pain with a straining voice
That exposes the bones through my skin.
6 I’m a sleepless owl in the wild,
An owl perched on ruins of the past.
7 I lie awake all night.
I’m a bird on a shell of a roof,
A lonely bird that doesn’t sleep.
8 Enemies insulted me all day long.
Now they’re using my name to cuss.
9 Ashes of mourning flake into my food.
Tears stream into my drink.
10 It’s all because of you.
Out of anger and rage,
You picked me up
And threw me away.
11 The time I have left is a lengthening shadow.
Slipping into the darkness of the night.
Like grass, I wither away.
God takes pity on Jerusalem12 But you, LORD, will live forever.
Every generation will know who you are.
13 Surely, you’ll come to Jerusalem, with pity.
Time for compassion is now.
It’s time to show her your kindness.
14 Your people love even Jerusalem’s stones,
And cherish the dust of her ground.
15 Nations will respect who you are.
Kings will honor you, LORD.
16 For the LORD rebuilds Jerusalem,
And reveals his glory again.
17 He listens to the prayers of the poor,
And he gives them the help they request.
18 These words are written
For the generations to come
So descendants will honor the LORD.
Sentenced to death, but saved19 The LORD looks down from heaven,
The LORD looks down on the earth.
20 He hears the moans of prisoners,
And he frees those sentenced to death.
21 Then people in Jerusalem
Will honor the LORD.
They’ll praise him in the city.
22 People will meet in Jerusalem,
And nations will follow the LORD.
Don’t cut my life in half23 God is sapping my strength.
He’s cutting my life in half.
24 I pray, “Please, my God, don’t end my life.
I have a second half to live.
You have lived through all generations.
25 You were here to plant the earth.
You filled the heavens above.
26 Even they will die, but you will live.
They’ll wear out like clothes,
You’ll change them like clothes,
Then throw the old rags away.
27 You’re the same as you’ve always been,
And your life will go forever.”
28 May your people live on in their children.
And may their children live in your presence.
The subtitle wasn’t part of the original psalm.
The poet doesn’t say what the ashes are about. But people threw ashes on themselves to express grief (Job 2:8; see also Isaiah 61:3).
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