Psalm 70 is yet another psalm of David, this one listed as a memorial offering. I went back to find what that meant, and it is a part of the offering left for God to remember the psalmist in a good way. I think that means it should be said along with giving a memorial offering and not that it is a memorial offering in itself. That said, we don’t really do that in Christianity, so maybe it is just that these days for the person who recites it.
Here it is:
1Make haste, O God, to deliver me!
O LORD, make haste to help me!
2Let them be put to shame and confusion
who seek my life!
Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor
who delight in my hurt!
3Let them turn back because of their shame
who say, “Aha, Aha!”
4May all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you!
May those who love your salvation
say evermore, “God is great!”
5But I am poor and needy;
hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O LORD, do not delay!
You may have noticed that this is an uncharacteristically short psalm too. It’s short and to the point, unlike so many of the psalms. This is a simple request for aid, though it does also ask that the perpetrators here be “put to shame” and whatnot. In this context, it feels like that is a suggestion on a way to help dissuade them from pursuing the psalmist rather than a vindictive request for a turn of circumstances as they often feel to me.
The last two verses could be put into almost any church service. I don’t quite remember the name of that part of some traditional services, but they recite parts of psalms or do a call and response at times and this is the kind of sentiment that goes well with even today’s services. We all feel needy sometimes and poor can be relative, though we’d rather not admit it. While we shouldn’t forget our neighbors who have less, people also have a tendency to compare themselves with those immediately around them. It’s easy to feel poor anywhere that you aren’t as affluent as those around you.
It makes me wonder in what way this psalm meant “poor and needy” as David would have only been this way while on the run from Saul, but even then he often had provision. Or was it written in one of those times when provision ran out? Regardless, it’s a beautiful little psalm that gets straight to the point but also doesn’t miss the opportunity to praise God within it.
It’s interesting as well that this entire psalm, with some slight translation differences, is contained at the end of Psalm 40. The book about the psalms pictured mentions that it seems this is the original version and Psalm 40 is an elongated one due to the inconsistencies with the writing in a verse at the beginning of Psalm 40. Still, I like the shorter version better. Psalm 40 now feels like someone just tried to fancy up this one and it just doesn’t go as well.