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Psalm 129:1-8

Saturday, January 27

Praise in the Midst of Enemies

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

I confess this is a difficult text for me to comment on. I am a tree-hugging, peace-loving hippie chick. I find it revolting to wish harm on anyone, even my enemies. But I'm going to put that aside for a minute to try to see what this text has to offer.

David presumably wrote the Psalms at a time when Israel's enemies were actively seeking to destroy it. He also wrote while his Israelite enemy, Saul, sought to kill him. David hoped that his enemies would not prevail, but would "wither." This seems to fly in the face of Jesus' commands to love our enemies. Maybe we can reconcile it like this. It may be possible to love our enemies, even as we despise their actions that seek to destroy us. And we're not really talking about the co-worker that annoys us. Think instead of mortal enemies that seek to destroy us. Terrorism has brought this kind of enemy to our doorstep in a way many of us had never experienced before. Is it possible for us to love the human beings that are so desperately unhappy that they seek to destroy the happiness of everyone else, even as we pray God to protect us from (and wither) their murderous behaviors? And it wasn't just that they sought to destroy Israel, but that in destroying Israel, they would also be attempting to put to death the word, action, and expressions of love of the God the creator of all things.

There's another perspective to consider. David regularly wrote praise to God, even in the midst of turmoil from enemies outside and inside Israel. His primary focus was not to pray God's curse upon his enemies, but to praise God despite his enemies. This psalm is easier for this pacifist to stomach when I consider how it celebrates a loving and protecting God. 

Narrative Lectionary Text: Psalm 129:1-8

A Song of Ascents.
‘Often have they attacked me from my youth’
   —let Israel now say— 
‘often have they attacked me from my youth,
   yet they have not prevailed against me. 
Those who plough ploughed on my back;
   they made their furrows long.’ 
The Lord is righteous;
   he has cut the cords of the wicked. 
May all who hate Zion
   be put to shame and turned back. 
Let them be like the grass on the housetops
   that withers before it grows up, 
with which reapers do not fill their hands
   or binders of sheaves their arms, 
while those who pass by do not say,
   ‘The blessing of the Lord be upon you!
   We bless you in the name of the Lord!’

Earlier Event: January 26
Psalm 128:5-6
Later Event: January 28
John 3:1-21, Nicodemus