A Psalm For Prigozhin And Putin – OpEd


For several years my wife and I have been reading a Psalm every Sabbath morning. This week after we re-read Psalm 9-10, we read about the civil war starting in Russia. You can see how many of King David’s words apply to today’s news. 

Psalms 9 and 10 may originally have been a single acrostic poem with alternating lines beginning with the successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.They are a single psalm in the oldest Greek translation; and psalm 10 has no heading in the main Hebrew manuscripts.

The New International Version translation (slenderized as follows):
For the music director: use music of “Death of the Son.” A psalm of David.

1 I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

2 I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.

3 My enemies turn back; they stumble and perish before you.

4 For you upheld my right and my cause, sitting enthroned as a righteous judge.

5 You rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked; you blotted out their names forever

6 Endless ruin overtakes my enemies, you uprooted their cities; their memory perished.

7 The Lord reigns forever; he established his throne for judgment.

8 He rules the world in righteousness and judges peoples with equity.

9 The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

10 Those who know your name trust in you, for you have never forsaken those who seek you.

11 Sing praises of the Lord, enthroned in Zion; proclaim among the nations what he has done.

12 For he who avenges blood remembers; he does not ignore the cries of the afflicted.

13 Lord, see my enemies persecute me. Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death.

14 That I may declare your praises in the gates Oh Daughter Zion, there rejoice in your salvation.

15 Nations have fallen into the pit they dug; their feet caught in the net they hid.

16 The Lord is known by his acts of justice, the wicked ensnared by the work of their hands.

17 The wicked go down to the realm of the dead, all the nations that forget God.

18 But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.

19 Arise, Lord, do not let mortals triumph; let the nations be judged in your presence.

20 Strike them with terror, Lord; let the nations know they are only mortal.

Psalm 10 1 Why, Lord, do you stand far off?  Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

2 In arrogance a wicked man hunts down the weak, who are caught in schemes he devises.

3 He boasts about the cravings of his heart;  he blesses the greedy and reviles the Lord.

4 In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

5 His ways are always prosperous; your laws rejected by him; he sneers at all his enemies.

6 He says to himself, “Nothing will ever shake me.” He swears, “No one will ever do me harm.”

7 His mouth is full of lies and threats; trouble and evil are under his tongue.

8 He lies near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent. His eyes see his victims;

9 Like a lion in cover he lies in wait to catch the helpless; and drags them off in his net.

10 His victims are crushed, they collapse; they fall under his strength.

11 He says to himself, “God will never notice; he covers his face and never sees.”

12 Arise, Lord! Lift up your hand, O God. Do not forget the helpless.

13 Why does a wicked man revile God? Why does he say “He won’t call me to account”?

14 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.

15 Break a wicked man’s arm, call evildoers to account for what would not be exposed.

16 The Lord is King for ever; the (invading) nations will perish from his land.

17 You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; encourage them, and listen to their cry,

18 Defend the fatherless and oppressed, so mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.

Rabbi Allen S. Maller

Allen Maller retired in 2006 after 39 years as Rabbi of Temple Akiba in Culver City, Calif. He is the author of an introduction to Jewish mysticism. God. Sex and Kabbalah and editor of the Tikun series of High Holy Day prayerbooks.

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