The close of Psalm 27 —
קַוֵּה, אֶל-יְהוָה: חֲזַק, וְיַאֲמֵץ לִבֶּךָ; וְקַוֵּה, אֶל-יְהוָה.
Hope in the LORD; strengthen yourself, let your heart take courage, and hope in the Lord [Psalm 27:14]
— is often cited as a motivational aphorism, particularly for the penitential season. This is its role in this meditation for Elul, for example.
Psalms 27:14 is employed in the Babylonian Talmud as a proof-text for appropriate attitude in prayer. The passage includes a discussion on prayer and hope, including — like the question Langston Hughes asks in “Harlem” — what happens to hope deferred.
Psalms 27:14 stands out in that it uses the second person (command) form, while the previous 13 verses are in the first person: “God is My light…whom should I fear?” etc. This raises the question: Whose heart is to hope?
I recently picked up The Best of Simple, a collection of short stories by Langston Hughes, and was struck by an amazing prayer that the main character says he would offer, were he “a praying man.”
[Originally posted on Fabrangen e-list, in response to a post, “Certain Unalienable Rights,” by R. Arthur Waskow encouraging “open discussion of what we would today write into such a visionary Declaration of peace, justice, and ecological responsibility, and — perhaps especially poignant in many countries this year what actions we might take to carry out such a Declaration.”]