Again, there are a number of complaints and petitions included in today’s readings, but once again, please notice that they deal with many of the same sorts of everyday issues that we too struggle with. Let’s take a look.
A plea for just judges (Psalm 58) — It happened back then like it happens today, judges dispensing personally created versions of “justice”, whether right or good or moral — or not. And it’s a good thing for judges, legislators, and executives in our and every government to remember that God pays attention to what they are saying and doing. Representative Charlie Rangel, according to reports that I’ve seen, has recently tried to manipulate politics through asking “What would Jesus do?” Please pardon my raised eyebrow, but wasn’t he the guy that was up on a laundry list of ethics charges not long ago? All politics aside, there needs to be less lip service and more realization that the Lord will one day judge them (government officials of all stripes, positions, parties, and branches of government) more strictly, because of the position that He allowed them to occupy. Dear political friends, it might be impolitic to do so these days, but it would benefit you the very most to consult with another poll, taken 2000 years ago of only one source — with no margin of error — the real judge of your actions, God. He’s the One who is above the demographics and the polls, and He will be judging you, yes you, by His unchanging standard. For those who fail to meet His standard, the psalm pronounces a consequence from the Lord Himself:
“O God, shatter their teeth in their mouth; Break out the fangs of the young lions, O LORD. Let them flow away like water that runs off; When he aims his arrows, let them be as headless shafts. Let them be as a snail which melts away as it goes along, Like the miscarriages of a woman which never see the sun. Before your pots can feel the fire of thorns He will sweep them away with a whirlwind, the green and the burning alike. The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; He will wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. And men will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; Surely there is a God who judges on earth!”” Psalms 58:6-11, NAS95.
And you know, this warning applies to everyone whom God has allowed to serve in a position of leadership or power, be it governmental, church leadership, or family leadership. God judges the judges.
A plea for protection for the guiltless (Psalm 59) — In this psalm there is a plea for help against enemies who attack without provocation, and in this prayer/psalm there is an often repeated petition essentially that “what comes around, goes around”. And certainly there is a certain satisfaction, when those who seek evil for the innocent are bitten by the very evil that they had planned for the innocent. Such poetic justice moments are wonderful opportunities to see God at work in His providence.
A plea for help in defeat (Psalm 60) — Who hasn’t been defeated, found themselves coming in second? But we aren’t talking about defeat in a little league baseball league, losing at Monopoly in this psalm. I don’t really think that God pays much attention to the score of the high school football championship despite what prayers might go up Him. But for important matters, life and death matters, kingdom matters, I know that God does pay attention — as in this prayer. Possibly because of sin, possibly because a need to try Israel God had allowed Israel to suffer defeat and it was a very serious matter, not just in terms of middle-east politics of the 10th century BC, but in eternal terms, since these were God’s chosen people, chosen for bringing salvation to the world. And according to the epigraph of the psalm, God did empower His people to come out victorious.
Let us realize the difference between mere competitions that God doesn’t pay much attention to and truly important things that He does pay attention to — and make them our priorities and attention getters, too. Too often we get caught up in mere competitions, and act as if they were televising the second coming; while we let important church things slide, as if they were no big deal.
See you tomorrow, Lord willing.