Still in these wonderfully challenging Psalms, especially today 59, 60, and 61. These are Psalms of crying out, of looking to God to lead in battle, of resistance against oppressors. My first thought when reading them this morning was that I haven’t really resonated with them in my life–and that maybe that is because I haven’t found myself really oppressed…and that is a challenging and humbling thought to reflect on.
These Psalms speak straight to the heart of folks who are seeking freedom, release, wholeness…they are becoming some of my favorite.
They also are starkly honest about God’s presence, about wondering where God is in the midst of pain and suffering. As 60 says,
“O God, you have rejected us,
broken our defenses;
you have been angry; now
You have caused the land to
quake; you have torn it
repair the cracks in it, for it is
And I wonder this morning, do we resist this image of a dynamic God at work in our lives? I don’t think many of us would be comfortable with this image…maybe more would than I imagine. But, this is a space–these psalms–for a challenging reflection on the way God is at work in the world…
When looking at the oppressions that the Psalms address, I was especially hooked by one small image. In 59, there is this image of being under siege, and rather than crying out for the ‘enemy’ to be obliterated (which is elsewhere and which I think many folks could commiserate with), the Psalmist speaks this:
“Do not kill them, or my people
make them totter by your
power, and bring them
O Lord our shield.” (NRSV)
Fischer also picks up on this:
“O don’t destroy them
Then I would forget
But drive them upward
And bring them to rest.”
His is a beautiful image….comes right up to the edge of seeking redemption for those who have persecuted us…maybe it speaks to this directly.
Nan Merrill’s take on it is especially profound, I think:
“Cast them not out, but help me
give me courage to let them go
one by one,
O Comforter , my Strength.!”
What a challenging and beautiful image, of being honest about our oppressions…yet realizing that their eradication limits our ability to learn and grow from the experience. One has to be careful about romanticizing violence here, of this notion of redemptive suffering, but there is a challenge laid out…with how we truly are made whole in suffering.