November 7, 2015
If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
The Sixth Day Exercise
Wow! What a change in tone. Just verses ago we were pondering the depths to which God knows us and loves us and cares for us and the precious-ness of God’s thoughts toward us and all of a sudden we are praying for the slaying of the wicked. But isn’t that just like life; one day you are at a wedding and the next at a funeral. The circumstances of life can be so overwhelming at times we simply need to cry out in anguish to God.
One thing we must remember about the Psalms is the Psalmist was not sitting down to write a poem or a song. The Psalmist is dealing with life at the gut level in the presence of God.
In today’s text, we seem to get to the bottom of what’s going on. I get the distinct impression that the Psalmist is equating his enemies with God’s enemies under the guise of making God’s enemies his enemies. The emotion is palpable. The word hate is mentioned three times in the course of two verses and then he throws in an “abhor” for good measure.
My working theory: the Psalmist was under attack by some person or persons in the community. His own reputation was being marred and even defamed by it all. He turns to the Lord in a spirit of inquiry—”Lord you have searched me and known me.” He is subjecting himself humbly to the judgment of God; as if to ask, “Is it me?” Next he rehearses the steadfast and closely caring love of God for him. He goes from being lost in his angst to getting lost in God in the midst of his prayer; which is an amazing movement in itself. Then he calls to mind his situation again which unfolds in today’s text. It’s like he wants to reiterate that if this enemy of his is the enemy of God then he can be justified in his hate. Because he’s still not sure about it all, he will turn to a final pray for examination which we will cover next Saturday.
In the meantime, what’s essential to note about the overall situation here is the healthy practice of bringing our life and all its challenges and all of our enemies before God where things can be processed and worked out in ways that do not bring harm to other people. I don’t know about you but when it comes to my enemies, I find it pretty easy to talk to someone else about them so as to get them on my side. Passive aggression is also a common strategy in such situations. The Psalmist shows us the way of bringing it all before God in prayer. This is the move we must learn to make.
In case you are new to the Sixth Day Exercise. In case you are just joining us, each week we share in an exercise called “The Sixth Day Exercise.” As Genesis 1 has it, God created human beings in his own image on the sixth day. Genesis 3 shows us the desecration of the image of God in our race which has only compounded itself across the centuries. It’s why the Image Bearer himself, Jesus Christ, came. His life, death, resurrection and ascension reversed the curse of sin and death and created a pathway whereby our broken race could be made gloriously whole again; restored to the Creator’s intent. Paul put it this way:
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:22.
Given we were made on the Sixth Day, it makes sense that we might stop and assess how it’s going on the long journey of being “remade” on each successive sixth day.
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J.D. Walt serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. firstname.lastname@example.org.