Psalm 143:11-12 (NIV)Typically when I go through the Psalms part of the lectionary, I sort of shut down my brain every time there’s a reference to enemies, foes, attackers, persecution and the like. It just doesn’t seem to resonate with my modern life, where I certainly don’t feel I’m put upon in any sense on account of my faith. If I have enemies, they are my own bad habits and sinful tendencies.
For your name’s sake, Lord, preserve my life;
in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble.
In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
destroy all my foes,
for I am your servant.
I wonder why it took so long — I’ve been doing this project about 16 months now — to try reading that reality into the Psalms. If I can stop thinking about Philistines or Babylonians or Canaanites acting on Israelites from the outside and start thinking about anger, impatience and judgment poisoning me from the inside, maybe that would open up an entirely new way to read an appreciate the Psalms.
This can’t be a revolutionary approach, but to me it certainly is different. If these and other sinful thoughts and actions are indeed my enemies, where better to turn for help than God? I know from far too much experience how my body and mind can be poisoned if I give in to these tendencies, and I know I can’t fight them off alone. I’d like to think I’ve shaped up a fair bit over the years, but it also seems each positive step also shines a light on how far I’ve yet to travel.
Those are my thoughts for the night. Nothing major or complex, and I’m not quite sure how to weave this into my approach to parenting — except perhaps to discuss it with the boys should we ever encounter one of these Psalms together — yet I feel I’ve put one more little block in the wall of Godly support I’m trying to construct to help stabilize my life. Every day is a challenge, but it’s also a new opportunity to live the right way. And with this growing young family filling my house and making it noisy, every day also is an absolute blessing.
A prayer for August 29:
Lord, thank you for finding new ways to open my eyes. So many times when I pray for wisdom I’m really asking for a better way to relate to the world, but it’s easy to forget how much attention I need to focus inwardly on my own shortcomings and challenges. Please help me to walk the path you set before me. Silence the urges within me that will only do harm. Cleanse me and let me begin anew, washed in your love. Amen.