Psalms For Life
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Yahveh Elohim hear our prayers

Psalm 70

Help me now!

Though the world’s evil and oppression threaten to overwhelm us, God is determined to rid the world of evil. Hence, he welcomes all our prayers for deliverance from evil.

A David psalm.

Rescue me, God!
Hurry, YHWH, and help me!
Let shame and confusion overtake
all those who want to take my life.
Rout in humiliation
all who want to see me hurt.
May all who say, “Look! Look!”
whenever I take a hit
shrink back in shame.

But may everyone who seeks you
be glad and rejoice in you.
May all who love what you’re doing
to save humankind
say, “God is great!”

But I am weak and low.
Come quick, God!
You’re my help and my deliverer.
Don’t delay, YHWH!

David begins and ends begging God to save him from enemies bent on destroying him. In Moses’ covenant, God promised to protect his people from harm and earlier to curse all who cursed Abraham. David has also been anointed king and promised a royal line that lasts forever, suggesting that one of his descendants would play a key role in God’s redemption of his creation. This means David is integral to God’s overall plan. So he naturally asks God to protect him. He tells him everything’s messed up and asks him to fix his situation immediately since he’s got no other hope and God’s faithfulness to his promise is at stake. We might expect all this even in a breathlessly short prayer.

But two things are surprising here. People usually respond to serious threats by hitting back even harder. David asks only that God leave his enemies in disarray, disgraced, and red-faced when their hopes are dashed and their nefarious plans fall flat.

Even more surprising is the fact that David anchors his prayer in joy. He knows God dwarfs the evil and oppression he’s up against and will yet overcome it. He prays it will happen—that all who seek God and love what he’s doing to put things right in the world will rejoice in him and celebrate his greatness. Though we’re weak and helpless without God, joy will yet triumph over pain. David is determined to declare that truth for however long it takes for the darkness to give way to light.

God, I long for the day when your light dispels every last shadow and you wipe every tear from our eyes. I believe it will come. But it often seems such a long way off. You’re my help and deliverer. Don’t delay! May all who seek you be glad and rejoice in you. Amen.

In your free moments today, pray this prayer:

May everyone who seeks you
be glad and rejoice in you.
May all who love what you’re doing
to save humankind
say, “God is great!”

Why YHWH?

Every translator of the Psalms must decide how to handle God’s personal name, YHWH or YHVH, which occurs repeatedly in its Hebrew text. Translators of the King James Version usually translated it “LORD” (all caps) and sometimes transliterated it (badly) as “Jehovah.” Likewise, all modern translations either translate or transliterate it. Some other options for translating it are “the Eternal,” “the Almighty,” or “the Sovereign Lord.”

While translating it aims to make it more accessible to readers, transliterating it seems to me more faithful to the text since it’s not a word at all, but rather God’s uniquely personal name. This roots it more firmly in the biblical story as the name God revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai. Meaning “the self-existent One who answers to no one,” the name YHWH set Israel’s God apart from all the gods of Israel’s neighbors.

Personal names are, well, very personal. Even the sound of a name can evoke strong emotion. I’ve chosen to transliterate only YHWH’s consonants since the earliest Hebrew manuscripts contain only consonants, the vowels being added much later. My aim in doing so is to honor God’s name and set it apart, as unique.

One problem with YHWH is that we aren’t sure how it was pronounced since Jews long ago stopped saying it out of reverence. (They read Adonai instead whenever they come to YHWH in the text.) I take the advice of my esteemed Hebrew professor, Raymond Dillard, who advocated pronouncing it as Yahveh (Yah·vay). He favored that over the standard Yahweh since the modern Hebrew pronunciation of its third consonant makes the name sound more robustly Jewish. It also makes it sound more robust, period.

Finding strength in the ancient psalms

May these psalms be a light to you in dark times. You can read more of Mark Anderson's writings on Christianity, culture, and inter-faith dialogue at Understanding Christianity Today.