Do we shorten a long psalm?

This morning Psalm 106 was on the schedule for Morning Prayer.  It has 49 verses, so it is one of those that has a little asterisk against it which indicates that it may be shortened.  We read it all.  The problem with shortening psalms is that one is always inclined to axe the same verses and in a psalm like this one, which tells the drama of the story of Israel’s history, is that one literally, ‘loses the plot.’

In a nutshell the burden of the psalm is that though we all may do and say things that are wrong, this is not fatal.  There is forgiveness, and a new start is possible.  The psalmist is not going to say this in a few words if 49 verses makes the point more obviously and positively.  There are several of these great records of Israel’s history: In addition to 106, psalms 78, 105 and 136 (which gives the second half of every verse as, ‘for his mercy endures for ever.’)

The knowledge of the grace of God brought to us through these psalms is one worth repeating over and over again.  So, the next time we read one of these great recitals of everything from the turmoil of the desert to the faithless response of the people, we may take them as a sign of the on-going acts of goodness that bring to our hearts the reminder of God’s love each day.  It is all part of the rhythm of daily prayer of which we contribute something of the scale of a grain of sand on the surface of a broad and boundless beach; and, at the same time, the love of Christ like the sea sweeping over the sand each day, makes perfect what we can do nothing to restore.

John Mann