Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 58. (MsgB)
The wicked crawl from the wrong side of the cradle;
Their first words out of the womb are lies.
Poison, lethal rattlesnake poison, drips from their forked tongues—
Deaf to threats, deaf to charm, decades of wax built up in their ears.
God, smash their teeth to bits, leave them toothless tigers.
Let their lives be buckets of water spilled, all that’s left, a damp stain in the sand.
Let them be trampled grass worn smooth by the traffic.
Let them dissolve into snail slime, be a miscarried fetus that never sees sunlight.
Before what they cook up is half-done, God, throw it out with the garbage!
OK, King David. Tell us how you really feel about your enemies?
Isn’t it amazing how the Holy Bible can contain such crass, un-loving, un-caring words about others? I mean, come on here David. You are the proto-type for Jesus of Nazareth. You are the soft-hearted, harp-playing man with a heart toward God? For heaven’s sake. Have you no compassion for your enemies?
Didn’t Jesus say to turn your cheek toward your enemy? Didn’t He say that if our enemy demands our coat, we give him our hat and gloves as well?
So what’s with all this ‘smash the teeth’ and ‘pull out the beard’ attitude toward the bad guys we see in some of David’s songs? At times, it seems like King David is more of a Chuck Norris-kind of guy than a Jesus of Nazareth.
But wait. The Bible was not written to be just a Holy Book with a bunch of flowery poetry. Not just a volume of heavenly advice…but a down-n-dirty, gut honest overview of what it’s really like to live in a world separated from God. You see, I actually feel a bit relieved when I read fightin’ words like these in the Holy Bible. You see, if a rough-n-tough guy like King David can be received by God as a man after His own heart, how wonderful it is for me to know that on the days I’d like to see my enemies pinned under a ten-ton truck, God doesn’t write me off for being unholy.
As a matter of fact, if King David can be gut honest with his inner hatred toward those who wrong him, maybe I can be honest with my frustrations as well? Maybe, just maybe, these scriptures that show us how P.O.’d ole’ King David could actually get with his enemies are there to encourage us that it’s OK at times to feel as David felt? In truth, God didn’t kick David out of His Holy Presence just because he had days when he got so mad at being treated unjustly he blew a fuse every now and then!
Actually, I think it’s kinda helpful that God gives me permission at times to hate my enemies, particularly when I allow the Holy Spirit to re-shape and re-direct that hatred into a holy anger toward Satan and his forces from Hell! As Paul reminds us in his writings, our true enemies in this world are not flesh and blood, but are dark spirits of demonic nature, sent by our real enemy to destroy us all…
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6: 12
So, in truth, when I allow God to redirect my anger, removing it from people who mis-treat me and directing it toward Satan and his army of demons, my anger can actually produce a deep hunger for godly justice inside me.
Could it be that this anger toward my enemies that I feel inside is not a bad thing to be snuffed out, but simply a human emotion that needs to be re-directed? Maybe if I’d allow my Holy God to work inside me, transforming my gut-honest anger toward human beings, re-tooling it into a powerful weapon of war against the demonic powers of this dark world, God might actually have a Holy-Spirit empowered warrior who loves his or her enemies while hating the evil and injustice that fills this fallen world?
I’m just sayin’.
My prayer: Father, as I see it, anger is not an emotion to be squelched but re-directed. Spirit, empower me to take the anger I feel toward human beings and re-direct it toward the true sources of injustice and evil. Might I become a man of the Spirit who hates the Enemy but loves my enemies. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: So how can I allow God to re-shape and re-direct the anger and hatred I have for those who hurt me or reject me? Rather than stuffing down my anger, how can I open my heart toward my Loving Father so that this anger I feel might be re-directed toward God’s enemies and not mine?
So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?
Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Sustainable Faith-Heartland network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.
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