We come now to the 9th psalm, which begins to develop one of the great themes of The Psalter: God’s care and concern for the poor. Indeed this begins a sequence of four psalms from 9 through to 12, which make God’s promise to defend the poor and needy explicit. For example:
Psalm 9:18 For the poor shall not alway be forgotten: the patient abiding of the meek shall not perish for ever.,
Psalm 10: 13 Arise, O Lord God, and lift up thine hand: forget not the poor.
Psalm 11:5 His eyes consider the poor: and his eye-lids try the children of men.
Psalm 12: 5-6: Now for the comfortless trouble’s sake of the needy: and because of the deep sighing of the poor, I will up, saith the Lord: and will help every one from him that swelleth against him, and will set him at rest.
As we pray through these psalms, this clear word from God that he will remember the poor and bring their oppressors to account, must surely strike us, perhaps unsettle and provoke us, but certainly calls for a response, a response which I have explored in the poems for this little run of psalms, of which this is the first.
The other verse from this psalm which entered deeply into my poetic response was verse 14: That I may shew all thy praises within the ports of the daughter of Sion: I will rejoice in thy salvation.
It made me think of how Blake, in responding to just this kind of Biblical poetry, imagined instead ‘The Daughters of Albion’ those in our own England called to sing God’s praises, but also calling God to defend the poor, so my illustration is the frontispiece of Blake’s prophetic book. So here is my response to Psalm 9, as always you can hear me read it by clicking on the title of the ‘play’ button. you can find the other poems in this series by entering ‘psalms’ into the search box on the right.
As in the startling wisdom of a child,
So also in remembering the poor
Our scales are readjusted, reconciled
To the true calibrations that endure
When God in all his justice holds those scales,
Redresses our imbalance and his sure
And steadfast covenant at last prevails.
And even now I will rejoice in him,
Now, when it sometimes seems that goodness fails
My song will still delight in his good name.
So come and join the song, daughters of Albion,
Come and rejoice with all whom he calls home
Rejoice through every age and stage and aeon
As, patiently abiding with the meek,
We sing with all the daughters of true Sion.
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