Be pleased, O God, to deliver me.
O Lord, make haste to help me!
Let those be put to shame and confusion
who seek my life.
Let those be turned back and brought to dishonor
who desire to hurt me.
Let those who say, “Aha, Aha!”
turn back because of their shame.
Let all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you.
Let those who love your salvation
say evermore, “God is great!”
But I am poor and needy;
hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
O Lord, do not delay!
Reflection – Well, we have a nice short little psalm this week, with a nice simple message. Vindication, baby—that’s what Psalm 70 is all about!
There are people being mean to me—make them sorry, Lord. As for me and the people who are like me—deliver us, and now! That is pretty much the bare bones content of this psalm.
As such, this psalm may or may not be everyone’s cup of tea. I have to be honest that this is not a psalm I particularly gravitate towards or have spontaneously committed to memory. Partly this is because while I suppose there are those who wish me ill strictly on account of my religion or my priestly ordination, I can’t honestly think of too many personal enemies. Nobody is all up in my face going ‘Aha, Aha!’ And if they did I would probably burst out laughing more than anything else (‘what are you aha-ing about, fool?’)
That being said, what is going on here? And what can we derive from this psalm (and indeed from all of these psalms that may or may not coincide particularly well with our own personal existential situation)?
It is the Lord who is our vindication, that is one main idea this psalm delivers us. We can get so caught up in the endless cycle of wrangling, contention, debate which in our awful current cultural state generally descends from a vigorous exchange of ideas to mere slinging of abuse and name-calling. Social media is terrible for this, of course, but it’s not just on-line that this happens.
Behind all that is some terrible idea that we have to win. We have to win the argument, we have to win the day, we have to come out on top of every exchange, every encounter, every relationship. It’s all just one big ugly power struggle, and whoever has either the biggest fists or the biggest mouth, the vilest talent at personal invective or simply the staying power to outlast everyone else on the debate stage will be the one left standing at the end of the day. Why yes, I am thinking of Donald Trump right now!
Well, phooey on all that. Psalm 70 reminds us that all of that ego posturing, all that strutting and preening, all of the politics of personal destruction, whether it plays out on the presidential debate stage or the com-box of a blog, is a load of pernicious nonsense, ultimately without any significance.
It is the Lord and the Lord alone who in the end assigns the value of each person’s life. It is the Lord and the Lord alone who delivers us from death and evil, who brings us to joy and beauty. It is the Lord and the Lord alone who ‘wins’ the argument, so to speak. We’re all in this matter like a bunch of silly bickering children, waiting for our Daddy to come home and knock some sense into us.
Well, He is coming. And if any of my readers are feeling a bit depressed right now at the state of the world and the nation, feeling like the ‘aha-aha-ers’ are pretty much owning the day right now, do remember that. In the end, they don’t matter, and none of it matters, except to seek the Lord and rejoice in his presence, and trust in his power to save us and set the world in justice and in peace. He is coming, and He in the end is our only hope.