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Jenny's Psalm Reflections: 57 verse 1

Today’s verse is Psalm 57 verse 1

“Be merciful to me, O God, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge.”


Psalm 57 in some Bible versions is entitled “Praise and Assurance under Persecution.” This Psalm is divided into two parts. In the first, verses 1–6, David gives expression to the anxiety which he feels, imploring God for assistance against Saul and his other enemies while he is hiding in a cave. In the second part, verses 7-11, he confidently expresses expectation of deliverance, and praises God. It is that typical pattern we see in this group of Psalms, with David having a problem, praying about it and then seeing a resolution.

This is a wonderful Psalm for those times when we feel that the world is against us, that there really is no end to the relentless struggle of daily life and that God seems to be hidden. I love the way the Psalms give expression to those emotions which I think we often feel constrained to talk about. One of the most difficult times in my life was when my mother-in-law passed away, and, within a few days, so did my own mother. Because of the difference in timing of funerals (they take place quite quickly in Northern Ireland where my mother was) Dave and I couldn’t attend both funerals. It was a case of what more can go wrong? It is at times like these that the strongest faith can be shaken and we cry out “Where is God in all this?

In a reflection on this Psalm written by Lucy Winkett, Rector of St James’ Church, Piccadilly, she writes that “sometimes we don’t feel God because, as in verse 1, it is because we are enveloped in the shadow of those wings that give us shelter, so close we can’t see them.” Thinking of difficult times in that way has, I know, been a real comfort to me. When we re-surface from under those wings, his love then shines through and we realise that God’s love remains, even when we stop loving ourselves.


1. Find a feather

Try and find a feather to hold for this reflection.


Make sure that you are in a quiet place. Sit comfortably but alert – feet flat on the floor, back pushed hard against the back of the chair. Start your reflection with hands cupped open ready to be open to God’s presence.

3. Focus on your breathing.

Pay attention to in-breaths and out-breaths. You may think of breathing in God’s life and peace and breathing out any tension.

4. Be aware of your body.

Be aware of your body. Let your aches and pains be there. Rest your hands in your lap; you don’t need to be doing anything with them now. Rest your feet on the floor; you don’t need to go anywhere. Shrug your shoulders, ease your neck. Take time to become still…

5. Say verse 1 to yourself.

Say the first part of verse 2 to yourself and bring your worries to God. Place them “in your cupped hands.”

6. Listen to God.

In the stillness, listen to what God might be saying to you about your daily life and how to walk with him. Finish with the prayer below.

7. Finish with this prayer:

Faithful God, you protect us in times of trouble and shelter us under your wings. Let your light shine through to pierce the darkness so that we may praise you and feel your love return. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen. 

Posted on October 21st 2021

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