James Roberts (21 October 1981 / Saginaw, Michigan)
save me, God! The water
is already up to my neck!
I am sinking in the deepest swamp,
there is no foothold;
I have stepped into deep water
and the waves are washing over me.
Worn out with calling, my throat is hoarse,
my eyes are strained, looking for my God.
More people hate me for no reason
than I have hairs on my head,
more are groundlessly hostile
than I have hair to show.
(They ask me to give back what I never took.)
God, You know how foolish I have been,
my offences are not hidden from You;
but let those who hope in You not blush for me,
Let those who seek You not be ashamed of me,
God of Israel!
It is for You I am putting up with insults
that cover me with shame,
that make me a stranger to my brothers,
an alien to my mother's other sons;
zeal for Your house devours me,
and the insults of those who insult You fall on me.
If I mortify myself with fasting,
they make this a pretext for insulting me;
If I dress myself in sackcloth,
I become their laughing-stock,
the gossip of people sitting at the city gate,
and the theme of drunken songs.
For my part, I pray to You, Yahweh,
at the time You wish;
in Your great love, answer me, God,
faithful in saving power.
Pull me out of this swamp; let me sink no further,
let me escape those who hate me,
save me from the deep water!
Do not let the waves wash over me,
do not let the deep swallow me
or the Pit close its mouth on me.
In Your lovingkindness, answer me, Yahweh,
In Your great tenderness turn to me,
do not hide Your face from Your servant,
quick, I am in trouble, answer me;
come to my side, redeem me,
from so many enemies ransom me.
You know all the insults I endure,
every one of my oppressors is known to You;
the insults have broken my heart,
my shame and disgrace are past cure;
I had hoped for sympathy, but in vain,
I found no one to console me.
They gave me poison to eat instead,
when I was thirsty they gave me vinegar to drink.
May their own trouble prove a trap for them,
and their plentiful supplies, a snare!
may there eyes grow dim, go blind,
strike their loins with chronic palsy!
Vent Your fury on them,
let Your burning anger overtake them;
may their camp be reduced to ruin,
and their tents left unoccupied:
for hounding a man after You had struck him,
for adding more wounds to those which You inflicted.
Charge them with crime after crime,
deny them further access to Your righteousness,
blot them out of the Book of Life,
strike them off the roll of the virtuous!
For myself, wounded wretch that I am,
by Your saving power, God, lift me up!
I will praise the name of God with a song,
I will extol Him with my thanksgiving,
more pleasing to Yahweh than any ox
or bull with horn and hoof.
Then, seeing this, the humble can rejoice:
long life to Your hearts, all you who seek for God!
Yahweh will always hear those who are in need,
will never scorn His captive people.
Let heaven and earth acclaim Him,
the oceans and all that moves in them!
For God will save Zion,
and rebuild the towns of Judah:
they will be lived in, owned,
handed down to His servants' descendants,
and lived in by those who love His Name.
Poet's Notes about The Poem
Comments about this poem (Psalm 69 by James Roberts )
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