a band of ruthless men seeks my life—men without regard for you. (Psalm 86:14)
While our lives may not be at risk from our enemies, each of us can still identify with the feeling of being vulnerable to threats by others. If our faith is strong, we call out to our Father for relief. If not, we often seek our own retribution, without a thought to how the attacks fit in the grand plan of God’s history. Do we miss an opportunity to turn the other cheek?
As we read through the Psalms we are struck by how deeply rooted in ancient culture and Jewish belief this poetry is. That is, we recognize the provenance of the literature and its history but we struggle to apply the thoughts to our life. The passages that praise God and exemplify total faith in Him are not difficult to seize hold of, but in the light of our current covenant, we are ashamed to admit that we still see our enemies in the same fashion. Publicly we advocate love for them but our private musings are made up of rambling imprecatory thoughts.
The psalmist fills this prayer with stanzas of praise as he seeks relief:
You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. (v5)
He is also cognizant of the ultimate outcome of history:
All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord;
They will bring glory to your name.
For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God. (vv 9-10)
Christians have and advantage that the psalmist did not; we live in the time of Jesus Christ and the new covenant. We have the end of history written for us in John’s apocalypse. We can live sacrificially toward our enemies, moving toward them rather than seeking the Lord’s hand to snatch us away from trouble. Like policeman and firefighters, we can run toward danger while others run away.
Grace and peace to you..