The Word Made Fresh
(A song of ascent.)
1Since I was young they have often struck me.
This is what Israel says:
2“Since I was young, they have often struck me,
but they have never conquered me.
3They plowed long furrows on my back,
4but the LORD is good.
The LORD has removed their shackles from me.”
5Let all those who hate Zion be turned away in shame.
6Let them be like grass on the roof
that withers before it can mature –
7before those who reap can fill their hands
or those who bind sheaves can fill their arms.
8May those who pass by never need to say,
“May the LORD’s blessings be with you!
We reward you in the LORD’s name!”
Superscription: the 10th “song of ascent.”
1-8: The opening verses are the cry of an oppressed people. Many commentators conclude that this psalm dates to about the time of the return of the exiles from Babylon. They have suffered abuse from “them,” and there is a hint of the opposition of other regional groups to the reestablishment of Zion as the religious center of the Jews. But their oppressors, for all their power, do not have the goodwill of those neighbors who pass by the humble dwellings of the poor and call out their encouragement, asking God to bless them.
Wherever you are, there are likely to be people nearby who are oppressed – by poverty, by storms that have damaged or destroyed their homes and property, by accidents that have damaged their belongings, by crime, by illness that threatens their lives and livelihood. Whenever those things happen to people there are always those who try to take advantage of them. This little psalm reminds us to be their encourager.