Meditating on poverty: Seeking guidance from the Psalms


  • M Odendaal



A correction to current ways of talking about the poor is sought and found in the Psalms. Although the Psalms use language about the poor in different ways, they never talk about poverty and the poor in absolute terms, in terms that define people’s lives and situations. Rather, in the presence of God, who is praised or begged for help, specific situations of need, distress, and injustice are put into words. The specificity of these situations does not lie in the details of the circumstances, but in the certainty that these circumstances will pass or have already changed. The invitation to join this project has given me the chance to consider my late unease about public references to poverty in the so-called post 9/11 world. I have tried to take my unease to the Psalms and into God’s presence. I shall make use of my chance in the following way: I shall explain the above mentioned unease. Then I shall turn to a few psalms, focusing on their adherence to the theme of poverty and their potential to reveal more about the understanding of poverty in God’s presence. I shall conclude with a summary and application of what I find in the Psalms.






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