Yes I have procrastinated about writing about this Psalm. In part due to some circumstances and in part, because yes, you guessed it, it’s about David reigning down curses on his enemies. I’m not really sure what we’re meant to be doing with that at the beginning of the 21st Century, especially as we live in the time after God walked on earth and said, um guys, it’s not just about keeping some laws, it’s about more than that. We’ve got to actively love our enemies.
So what do we do with Psalm 109? I think there is a big fat theme screaming at us if we can get over the whole, ‘doesn’t David get a bit extreme here’ thing. Justice matters. There are things that are very wrong in this world, with the way we treat each other and it’s a vital part of being human to care about them. I’m very guilty of buying into the worldview that says there is very little right and wrong, that it’s all subjective, all based on what each individual thinks. That leads to a apathetic state of not really caring about things that are really wrong in this world. It becomes all too easy to turn a blind eye to real injustice if justice is a relative concept. My heart doesn’t burn with pain at people who are acting in horrendous ways towards others. My heart doesn’t ache with David’s and cry out to God for justice to be done.
I’m uncomfortable with this Psalm because of the fear of being too judgemental, too definite about people who do wrong things. I know I stand with them, I know the hardness of my heart but also I let fear hold me back from proclaiming some things are just wrong and need to be dealt with.
It’s a different story if I am the one who is wronged. We’ve all been accused of something we didn’t do. If you are anything at all like me you’ll hate it, want to quickly rectify the situation, feel out of sorts and angsty about how people are now perceiving you and so on. I feel all kinds of pain over even slight injustices done to myself, but do I care about the wider injustices in my city, in the world I inhabit? And if I do, what can I do about it?
David cries out to God, he begs for deliverance and he begs for God to act for God’s name’s sake. This world should not be this way, people should not act this way. People who do not remember to show kindness, who curse instead of bless, who lie and cheat and steal should be stopped. I should be stopped when I act like this. David cried out for God to step in and do something. David cries out to the one who stands at the right hand of the needy for help.
It’s not a flippant thing to say that God answered that prayer by walking on earth himself. Jesus came to deal with the very heart of the problem. To deal with the self centredness and sin that causes injustice. He faced the ultimate injustice on the cross as he was put to death for crimes he didn’t commit by an illegal trial. We cry out to him to come and change our hearts, and we cry out for his coming again, to end the corruption, violence and terror that lies at the heart of our world.
I want to repent of the ways in which I have acted like David’s enemies. I want to come and know forgiveness and a new start. I want to come again to the One who can change my heart. I want to ask for his care and concern for this world. I want to ask for the compassion and anger against injustice and the ability to know how to make a difference in my corner of the world today. I want to engage with this world and not remain indifferent. I want to stop apologising that God is angry with our sin, with our treatment of each other and him. In the words of U2, I want to ‘stop helping God across the road like a little old lady’. He is big, strong and mighty and is angry about the way we treat each other and him. I want to know that he isn’t meek and mild and weak. I want to know how crazy deep his love was that he took that anger on himself as he hung on a cross so we could walk with him and care with him about this world.
Anyone want to join me?