For the director of music. A miktam of David to the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” 1 Are you rulers really fair when you speak? Do you judge people honestly? 2 No, in your hearts you plan to be unfair. With your hands you do terrible things on the earth. 3 Even from birth those who are evil go down the wrong path. From the day they are born they go the wrong way and spread lies. 4 Their words are like the poison of a snake. They are like the poison of a cobra that has covered up its ears. 5 It won’t listen to a snake charmer’s tune, even if the charmer plays very well. 6 God, break the teeth in the mouths of those sinners! Lord, tear out the sharp teeth of those lions! 7 Let those people disappear like water that flows away. When they draw their bows, let their arrows fall short of the target. 8 Let them be like a slug that melts away as it moves along. Let them be like a baby that is born dead and never sees the sun. 9 Evil people will be swept away before burning thorns can heat a pot. And it doesn’t matter if the thorns are green or dry. 10 Godly people will be glad when those who have hurt them are paid back. They will dip their feet in the blood of those who do evil. 11 Then people will say, “The godly will get their reward. There really is a God who judges the earth.”
This psalm recognizes that political affairs keep questions about power separate from questions about uprightness and faithfulness. Many rulers do not rule in ways that gives priority to integrity and concern for their people. There are supernatural forces working through human rulers, supernatural forces that are cynical about uprightness and faithfulness. When we are concerned about our society we need to recognize that the forces working against human well-being are more than merely human. This makes prayer vital to working for good in society, prayer that recognizes these realities. The psalm begins by addressing the forces themselves.
This prayer is a prayer for desperate people, for powerless people threatened by powerful people who are as dangerous as deadly snakes that will not listen to anyone who tries to stop them from using their poisonous potential. The victims know that God exacts justice, and they look forward to the relief that will come when God does so.
Father, help me to be patient, even as I observe injustice, knowing that vengeance is Yours not mine!
Written by Ps. Richard Botta