Religion will cost us the tears of repentance and the blood of persecution.
― Thomas Watson
Scripture: Psalm 44.6-8
For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me. But you have saved us from our foes and have put to shame those who hate us. In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever.
Reflection: Complaint in Persecution
The Park Forum
As a nonconformist, Isaac Watts had been banned from Oxford and Cambridge, which were exclusively Anglican at the time. Even though he was an accomplished poet, hymnodist, teacher, educational theorist, logistician, pastor, and author, Watts faced enormous pressure from the Church of England.
Yet in the face of trial and loss Watts clung to his savior. He articulated his faith with thoughtful precision in every field he practiced and dedicated himself to the church throughout his life. No better is this seen than in Watts’ interpretation of Psalm 44 in The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament:
Lord, we have heard thy works of old,
Thy works of power and grace,
When to our ears our fathers told
The wonders of their days.
How thou didst build thy churches here,
And make thy gospel known;
Amongst them did thine arm appear,
Thy light and glory shone.
In God they boasted all the day,
And in a cheerful throng
Did thousands meet to praise and pray,
And grace was all their song.
But now our souls are seized with shame,
Confusion fills our face,
To hear the enemy blaspheme,
And fools reproach thy grace.
Yet have we not forgot our God,
Nor falsely dealt with heav’n,
Nor have our steps declined the road
Of duty thou hast giv’n;
Though dragons all around us roar
With their destructive breath,
And thine own hand has bruised us sore
Hard by the gates of death.
We are exposed all day to die
As martyrs for thy cause,
As sheep for slaughter bound we lie
By sharp and bloody laws.
Awake, arise, Almighty Lord,
Why sleeps thy wonted grace?
Why should we look like men abhorred
Or banished from thy face?
Wilt thou for ever cast us off,
And still neglect our cries?
For ever hide thine heav’nly love
From our afflicted eyes?
Down to the dust our soul is bowed,
And dies upon the ground;
Rise for our help, rebuke the proud,
And all their powers confound.
Redeem us from perpetual shame,
Our Savior and our God;
We plead the honors of thy name,
The merits of thy blood.
Prayer: The Request for Presence
May God be merciful to us and bless us,* show us the light of his countenance and come to us. —Psalm 67.1
– From The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.
Full prayer available online and in print.
Numbers 8 (Listen – 3:27)
Psalm 44 (Listen – 2:44)