Friday, January 22, 2016

Not Fade Away

Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint;
preserve my life from the dread enemy.

Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
from the scheming of evildoers,
who whet their tongues like swords,
who aim bitter words like arrows,
shooting from ambush at the blameless;
they shoot suddenly and without fear.

They hold fast to their evil purpose;
they talk of laying snares secretly, thinking, “Who can see us?
Who can search out our crimes?
We have thought out a cunningly conceived plot.”

For the human heart and mind are deep.
But God will shoot his arrow at them;
they will be wounded suddenly.
Because of their tongue he will bring them to ruin;
all who see them will shake with horror.

Then everyone will fear;
they will tell what God has brought about,
and ponder what he has done.
Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord
and take refuge in him.
Let all the upright in heart glory.
Psalm 64

Reflection – Well, another Friday, another psalm about our enemies attacking us and God destroying them. I must say that, while I am fully committed to doing this sequential commentary on the psalms, I will be really happy when we get a little bit further on in the psalter and other themes begin to predominate over this one. If for no other reason than that it is getting hard to think of something different to say about this particular subject, week upon week.

I would point out this time around, though, that this psalm features the whole reality of God quickly bringing to naught those who seem to have so much power in this world, those who are so very clever, so very Machiavellian in their plotting and scheming, those who are so sure that their wits and their malice will bring them the victory they seek.

And… they fail. They fail all the time. Or they enjoy some limited success for some time, and then, well, they just fade away. This is not only in the psalms; it is the way of the world, truly. Politicians, opinion makers and shapers, movers and shakers, peddlers of influence—all of these are people who for the most part do not in the end matter nearly as much as they seem to in the short run.

Do not fear, then, Trump and Clinton, Sanders and Cruz, Trudeau and Wynne (for my Canadian readers), and the whole lot of schemers and spin doctors, lackeys and toadies and backroom boys and girls who  attend them, and all the other proud players strutting the stage in January 2016—by January 2017 a good few of the will have faded away, and by January 2036 most of them will be forgotten and the world will keep spinning around serenely on its course.

I am convinced that the people who make a lasting mark on the world, the people whose efforts and labors do not fade away when they fade away, are the people I wrote about yesterday—the saints of God. And while I suppose we have to put some energy towards resisting the truly wicked people doing truly wicked things in this world—be it ISIS or whatever politician you find most appalling at the moment, this can never become the main focus of our concern.

If it does, we will become like them—power brokers and manipulators, doomed to fade away when our power fades. If our primary concern is to become the saints God made us to be, to love God and to love neighbor, to do God’s will and dedicate ourselves to works of mercy according to that will, then our lives will leave a permanent legacy in this world of light and truth, peace and joy, even if we are the most hidden and unknown of people.

Psalm 64 and all the related psalms essentially tell us not to worry too much about all the sound and fury of the mighty ones of the world, but to dedicate ourselves to serving God and living righteous good lives in this world, so as to be happy with Him in the next one. So… let’s aim for that, today.

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