Monday 23 August, 2021

Psalm 64

For the director of music. A psalm of David. 1 Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint; protect my life from the threat of the enemy. 2 Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked, from the plots of evildoers. 3 They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim cruel words like deadly arrows. 4 They shoot from ambush at the innocent; they shoot suddenly, without fear. 5 They encourage each other in evil plans, they talk about hiding their snares; they say, “Who will see it[b]?” 6 They plot injustice and say, “We have devised a perfect plan!” Surely the human mind and heart are cunning. 7 But God will shoot them with his arrows; they will suddenly be struck down. 8 He will turn their own tongues against them and bring them to ruin; all who see them will shake their heads in scorn. 9 All people will fear; they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what he has done. 10 The righteous will rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in him; all the upright in heart will glory in him!

This begins like a lot of psalms. David tells God that things are wrong. David’s under attack (again). He firmly expects that God will make things right. Complaining to God sounds odd, but it seems God loves his honest faith and complete dependence.

But in this psalm, the weapons used against David are words. His enemies’ swords are their tongues, intent on cutting him down. They use cruel words to wound, like arrows. It’s deliberate – no momentary flash of anger – prepared, planned and deliberately targeted. David is looking for exquisite justice – their own cutting tongues turned back against them – brought down by God’s arrows.

I’m struck by the similarities to how Paul tells us to fight in the spiritual battle in Ephesians 6 – and by a significant difference.

The evil one (also called “the devil” – “the accuser”) also fires his fiery arrows at us. But God gives us the “shield of faith” – not faith in truths (that’s a belt around our waist), but faith in a person – Jesus, who is the truth. He stands between us, and the accusations rightly aimed at us, and he takes them on himself all the way to the cross.

The sword is a word here, too – the sword of the spirit – God’s spoken word. It doesn’t bring death; it brings life. It doesn’t cut down; it builds up. It’s not a tool of hate but of God’s healing love.

Our human enemies may deserve to have their hateful, harmful words turned back on them, but our battle isn’t against them. Jesus wants to save them as much as he wants to save us.  So, what will be on my lips? The hurtful words I hear, or Jesus – the Word who stepped into our world, full of grace (John 1)?

Jesus, thanks that you take onto yourself the accusations that are rightly aimed at me. Your grace is far more exquisite than any form of justice I could imagine.

Written by David Cornell

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