My tongue I vowed to keep from sin

    April 2009 Passover Edition            
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Psalm 39

By James Vasquez

My tongue I vowed to keep from sin,
“My ways,” I said,” I will observe.”
A muzzle on my mouth I’d keep,
Nor from your righteous paths would swerve.

And thus would I comport myself
While wicked men were found nearby.
But silent nor a goodly word
Proceeding from my mouth thereby,

My anguish deep within increased.
My heart grew hot, the fire burned
While meditating, then I spoke
And to the Lord abruptly turned,

“Now show me, Lord, my numbered days
And my life’s end, though but a breath,
How fleeting all my life shall be,
The span of years before my death.

“For well I know, before you, Lord,
A mere handbreadth are all my days.”
For man is but a phantom here,
And to and fro he works and plays.

He bustles here and bustles there,
Yet all his work is done in vain.
He heaps up wealth but fathoms not
To whom, one day, it will remain.

But I, O Lord, where shall I look?
My hope remains steadfast in you.
Now save me from transgressions and
The spiteful scorn of fools due.

For when I guarded silence and
A seal upon my lips ordained,
‘Twas you who did this very thing,
And each misspoken word restrained.

Remove from me your scourge, O Lord,
The blows of your right hand I feel.
‘Tis just that for the sin of men
You manifest your righteous zeal,

You discipline their errant ways,
Rebuking for each sin begot,
And like a moth all they have gained
You will consume and bring to naught.

My mournful prayer attend, O Lord,
My tearful cry for help now hear,
For far removed from you I dwell,
And as a stranger I appear.

Now look away that I may know
Once more rejoicing and delight,
Lest I depart and am no more,
Removed forever from your sight.

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from the April 2009 Passover Edition of the Jewish Magazine

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