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athgarvan

"Let my prayer come before you . . ." (Ps. 88)

I have been quietly trying to come to grips with Psalm 88 which is the prayer of a desperate poor soul. His prayer is weak and helpless, though fervent and sincere. He wants the Lord to take all hinderances out of its way, and let it have a free passage to His throne.

Did you know that one of the finest thoughts in the Iliad of Homer concerns prayer?


Prayers are Jove‘s daughters; wrinkled, lame, slant-eyed,
Which, though far distant, yet with constant paceIliad
Follow offence. Offence, robust of limb,
And treading firm the ground, outstrips them all,
And over all the earth, before them runs
Hurtful to man: they, following, heal the hurt.
Received respectfully when they approach,
They yield us aid, and listen when we pray.
But if we slight, and with obdurate heart
Resist them, to Saturnian Jove they cry.
Against, us supplicating, that offense
May cleave to us for vengeance of the wrong.
Thou, therefore, O Achilles! honor yield
To Jove‘s own daughters, vanquished as the brave
Have ofttimes been, by honor paid to thee.


Cowper, the translator, makes the following remarks on the allegory: Wrinkled, because the countenance of a man, driven to prayer by a consciousness of guilt, is sorrowful and dejected. Lame, because it is a remedy to which men recur late, and with reluctance. Slant-eyed, either because in that state of humiliation they fear to lift up their eyes to heaven, or are employed in taking a retrospect of their past misconduct.

The whole allegory, considering when and where it was composed, forms a very striking passage.


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