Deliver me from my enemies, O my God;
protect me from those who rise up against me.
Deliver me from those who work evil;
from the bloodthirsty save me.
Even now they lie in wait for my life;
the mighty stir up strife against me.
For no transgression or sin of mine, O Lord,
for no fault of mine, they run and make ready.
Rouse yourself, come to my help and see!
You, Lord God of hosts, are God of Israel.
Awake to punish all the nations;
spare none of those who treacherously plot evil.
Each evening they come back, howling like dogs
and prowling about the city.
There they are, bellowing with their mouths,
with sharp words on their lips—for “Who,” they think, “will hear us?”
But you laugh at them, O Lord; you hold all the nations in derision.
O my strength, I will watch for you; for you, O God, are my fortress.
My God in his steadfast love will meet me;
my God will let me look in triumph on my enemies…
Then it will be known to the ends of the earth that God rules over Jacob…
But I will sing of your might;
I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning.
For you have been a fortress for me and a refuge in the day of my distress.
O my strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress
the God who shows me steadfast love.
Reflection – Well, another week, another terrorist attack dominating the news. As we have been moving through this difficult section of the book of Psalms—the ‘gloomy 50s’, I’ve been calling it—the world has itself moved through some gloomy times, the ‘bloodthirsty’ have indeed had their moment lately, ‘prowling about the city’.
I found it bizarre that the visceral response of at least some in the face of this recent attack was to lash out with anger and contempt at those who were praying for the dead and their families. Even as the bodies were still warm and surgeons were attending to the wounded, even as the survivors and their families were publicly asking for prayers, some in the media found it appropriate to sneer that ‘God can’t fix this’ (an actual full page headline from one New York tabloid) and to tell people of faith to shut up because ‘we are the problem’ (an actual quote from a respected senior journalist).
Well, we won’t shut up, because God indeed can fix this. Yes, we cannot only pray or, worse yet, mouth empty platitudes about prayer while not even doing that. But we have to be very clear. There is a spirit of violence and death at loose in the world right now. Now the media does hype things up, and statistically we are still more at risk of dying in a car accident than a terrorist attack… but nonetheless this is real, this is happening, and it will continue to happen, a great evil of our time.
And the greater evil yet is the fear and anger these things stir up in people. Only a miniscule percentage of the population will ever be killed or injured, or even have a close family member killed or injured, by a terrorist. But there are shock waves—spiritual and emotional—that rocket forth from these things, and let loose upon the land all sorts of things we have to guard against. Anger, hatred, fear, anxiety, vengefulness. And in that, vulnerability to politicians playing on those emotions who may possibly not have our best interests at heart (not to mention any names, but it rhymes with Funnelled Rump).
And this is what God ‘can fix’, not to mention His consoling love for the grieving and His mercy in welcoming the fallen into His kingdom (I don’t expect journalists to understand much about those matters). We have to know that our security is not in electing some idiot with bad hair who promises us he’ll take care of the whole thing with his ‘best people’. Our security is in the Lord and the Lord alone. Yes, there are things we have to do about ISIS, and they are not nice things, not pleasant things. Nobody should welcome those things.
But we do not have to give in to fear, anger, panic, unreasoned hatred, vengeful bitterness. Why? Because our safety, our security, the sure hope of our life and the assurance of the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, truth over falsehood, is in the Lord and not in flesh and blood. In the final ascendancy of heaven over hell, love over hate.
Oh, God ‘fixes’ us, all right. He affixes us on the path of freedom and truth, the path of Gospel love and merciful care for our brothers and sisters, out of which we can make the right choices about our difficult world situation. To pray, and in that praying, renew our commitment to Christ and to His Gospel, is not an empty exercise, but is the heart of the matter, that which alone provides a path of light and peace in our troubled war-torn world. So let’s keep praying, and thinking, and loving, and serving, according to what Our Lord has given us and what His Spirit prompts us to do.