81 1-5 A song to our strong God!
    a shout to the God of Jacob!
Anthems from the choir, music from the band,
    sweet sounds from lute and harp,
Trumpets and trombones and horns:
    it’s festival day, a feast to God!
A day decreed by God,
    solemnly ordered by the God of Jacob.
He commanded Joseph to keep this day
    so we’d never forget what he did in Egypt.

    I hear this most gentle whisper from One
    I never guessed would speak to me:

6-7 “I took the world off your shoulders,
    freed you from a life of hard labor.
You called to me in your pain;
    I got you out of a bad place.
I answered you from where the thunder hides,
    I proved you at Meribah Fountain.

8-10 “Listen, dear ones—get this straight;
    O Israel, don’t take this lightly.
Don’t take up with strange gods,
    don’t worship the popular gods.
I’m God, your God, the very God
    who rescued you from doom in Egypt,
Then fed you all you could eat,
    filled your hungry stomachs.

11-12 “But my people didn’t listen,
    Israel paid no attention;
So I let go of the reins and told them, ‘Run!
    Do it your own way!’

13-16 “Oh, dear people, will you listen to me now?
    Israel, will you follow my map?
I’ll make short work of your enemies,
    give your foes the back of my hand.
I’ll send the God-haters cringing like dogs,
    never to be heard from again.
You’ll feast on my fresh-baked bread
    spread with butter and rock-pure honey.”
82 God calls the judges into his courtroom,
    he puts all the judges in the dock.

2-4 “Enough! You’ve corrupted justice long enough,
    you’ve let the wicked get away with murder.
You’re here to defend the defenseless,
    to make sure that underdogs get a fair break;
Your job is to stand up for the powerless,
    and prosecute all those who exploit them.”

Ignorant judges! Head-in-the-sand judges!
    They haven’t a clue to what’s going on.
And now everything’s falling apart,
    the world’s coming unglued.

6-7 “I appointed you judges, each one of you,
    deputies of the High God,
But you’ve betrayed your commission
    and now you’re stripped of your rank, busted.”

O God, give them what they’ve got coming!
    You’ve got the whole world in your hands!
83 1-5 God, don’t shut me out;
    don’t give me the silent treatment, O God.
Your enemies are out there whooping it up,
    the God-haters are living it up;
They’re plotting to do your people in,
    conspiring to rob you of your precious ones.
“Let’s wipe this nation from the face of the earth,”
    they say; “scratch Israel’s name off the books.”
And now they’re putting their heads together,
    making plans to get rid of you.

6-8     Edom and the Ishmaelites,
    Moab and the Hagrites,
    Gebal and Ammon and Amalek,
    Philistia and the Tyrians,
    And now Assyria has joined up,
    Giving muscle to the gang of Lot.

9-12 Do to them what you did to Midian,
    to Sisera and Jabin at Kishon Brook;
They came to a bad end at Endor,
    nothing but dung for the garden.
Cut down their leaders as you did Oreb and Zeeb,
    their princes to nothings like Zebah and Zalmunna,
With their empty brags, “We’re grabbing it all,
    grabbing God’s gardens for ourselves.”

13-18 My God! I’ve had it with them!
    Blow them away!
Tumbleweeds in the desert waste,
    charred sticks in the burned-over ground.
Knock the breath right out of them, so they’re gasping
    for breath, gasping, “God.”
Bring them to the end of their rope,
    and leave them there dangling, helpless.
Then they’ll learn your name: “God,”
    the one and only High God on earth.
84 1-2 What a beautiful home, God-of-the-Angel-Armies!
    I’ve always longed to live in a place like this,
Always dreamed of a room in your house,
    where I could sing for joy to God-alive!

3-4 Birds find nooks and crannies in your house,
    sparrows and swallows make nests there.
They lay their eggs and raise their young,
    singing their songs in the place where we worship.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies! King! God!
    How blessed they are to live and sing there!

5-7 And how blessed all those in whom you live,
    whose lives become roads you travel;
They wind through lonesome valleys, come upon brooks,
    discover cool springs and pools brimming with rain!
God-traveled, these roads curve up the mountain, and
    at the last turn—Zion! God in full view!

8-9 God-of-the-Angel-Armies, listen:
    O God of Jacob, open your ears—I’m praying!
Look at our shields, glistening in the sun,
    our faces, shining with your gracious anointing.

10-12 One day spent in your house, this beautiful place of worship,
    beats thousands spent on Greek island beaches.
I’d rather scrub floors in the house of my God
    than be honored as a guest in the palace of sin.
All sunshine and sovereign is God,
    generous in gifts and glory.
He doesn’t scrimp with his traveling companions.
    It’s smooth sailing all the way with God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
85 1-3 God, you smiled on your good earth!
    You brought good times back to Jacob!
You lifted the cloud of guilt from your people,
    you put their sins far out of sight.
You took back your sin-provoked threats,
    you cooled your hot, righteous anger.

4-7 Help us again, God of our help;
    don’t hold a grudge against us forever.
You aren’t going to keep this up, are you?
    scowling and angry, year after year?
Why not help us make a fresh start—a resurrection life?
    Then your people will laugh and sing!
Show us how much you love us, God!
    Give us the salvation we need!

8-9 I can’t wait to hear what he’ll say.
    God’s about to pronounce his people well,
The holy people he loves so much,
    so they’ll never again live like fools.
See how close his salvation is to those who fear him?
    Our country is home base for Glory!

10-13 Love and Truth meet in the street,
    Right Living and Whole Living embrace and kiss!
Truth sprouts green from the ground,
    Right Living pours down from the skies!
Oh yes! God gives Goodness and Beauty;
    our land responds with Bounty and Blessing.
Right Living strides out before him,
    and clears a path for his passage.
86 1-7 Bend an ear, God; answer me.
    I’m one miserable wretch!
Keep me safe—haven’t I lived a good life?
    Help your servant—I’m depending on you!
You’re my God; have mercy on me.
    I count on you from morning to night.
Give your servant a happy life;
    I put myself in your hands!
You’re well-known as good and forgiving,
    bighearted to all who ask for help.
Pay attention, God, to my prayer;
    bend down and listen to my cry for help.
Every time I’m in trouble I call on you,
    confident that you’ll answer.

8-10 There’s no one quite like you among the gods, O Lord,
    and nothing to compare with your works.
All the nations you made are on their way,
    ready to give honor to you, O Lord,
Ready to put your beauty on display,
    parading your greatness,
And the great things you do—
    God, you’re the one, there’s no one but you!

11-17 Train me, God, to walk straight;
    then I’ll follow your true path.
Put me together, one heart and mind;
    then, undivided, I’ll worship in joyful fear.
From the bottom of my heart I thank you, dear Lord;
    I’ve never kept secret what you’re up to.
You’ve always been great toward me—what love!
    You snatched me from the brink of disaster!
God, these bullies have reared their heads!
    A gang of thugs is after me—
    and they don’t care a thing about you.
But you, O God, are both tender and kind,
    not easily angered, immense in love,
    and you never, never quit.
So look me in the eye and show kindness,
    give your servant the strength to go on,
    save your dear, dear child!
Make a show of how much you love me
    so the bullies who hate me will stand there slack-jawed,
As you, God, gently and powerfully
    put me back on my feet.
87 1-3 He founded Zion on the Holy Mountain—
    and oh, how God loves his home!
Loves it far better than all
    the homes of Jacob put together!
God’s hometown—oh!
    everyone there is talking about you!

I name them off, those among whom I’m famous:
    Egypt and Babylon,
    also Philistia,
    even Tyre, along with Cush.
Word’s getting around; they point them out:
    “This one was born again here!”

The word’s getting out on Zion:
    “Men and women, right and left,
    get born again in her!”

God registers their names in his book:
    “This one, this one, and this one—
    born again, right here.”

Singers and dancers give credit to Zion:
    “All my springs are in you!”
88 1-9 God, you’re my last chance of the day.
    I spend the night on my knees before you.
Put me on your salvation agenda;
    take notes on the trouble I’m in.
I’ve had my fill of trouble;
    I’m camped on the edge of hell.
I’m written off as a lost cause,
    one more statistic, a hopeless case.
Abandoned as already dead,
    one more body in a stack of corpses,
And not so much as a gravestone—
    I’m a black hole in oblivion.
You’ve dropped me into a bottomless pit,
    sunk me in a pitch-black abyss.
I’m battered senseless by your rage,
    relentlessly pounded by your waves of anger.
You turned my friends against me,
    made me horrible to them.
I’m caught in a maze and can’t find my way out,
    blinded by tears of pain and frustration.

9-12 I call to you, God; all day I call.
    I wring my hands, I plead for help.
Are the dead a live audience for your miracles?
    Do ghosts ever join the choirs that praise you?
Does your love make any difference in a graveyard?
    Is your faithful presence noticed in the corridors of hell?
Are your marvelous wonders ever seen in the dark,
    your righteous ways noticed in the Land of No Memory?

13-18 I’m standing my ground, God, shouting for help,
    at my prayers every morning, on my knees each daybreak.
Why, God, do you turn a deaf ear?
    Why do you make yourself scarce?
For as long as I remember I’ve been hurting;
    I’ve taken the worst you can hand out, and I’ve had it.
Your wildfire anger has blazed through my life;
    I’m bleeding, black-and-blue.
You’ve attacked me fiercely from every side,
    raining down blows till I’m nearly dead.
You made lover and neighbor alike dump me;
    the only friend I have left is Darkness.

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