1 O my God, whose name I worship, be not silent, LORD, I pray; 2 For the wicked and deceitful speak against me every day.
They have uttered lies against me; with malicious tongues they fight. 3 Without cause they rush upon me, closing in with words of spite.
4 In return for love they blame me, though for them I daily pray. 5 They reward my good with evil, for my friendship hate repay.
6 Set an evil man against him at his right hand to denounce. 7 May his very prayers condemn him; let the court his guilt pronounce.
8 May his rule pass to another; short and wretched be his life. 9 Fatherless shall be his children; make a widow of his wife.
10 May his children beg and wander, driven from their ruined gate. 11 May his goods be seized and taken— strangers plunder his estate.
12 May no one take pity on him or his orphans in their plight. 13 May his fam’ly line be ended, and their names be lost to sight.
This could be set to any 8787 tune.
14 May the LORD remember ever all his parents’ sin and shame. 15 May their sin be held against them, and forgotten be their name.
16 For he never thought of helping those in trouble or distress; But to death the poor he hounded, and the weak and comfortless.
17 He was always cursing others— may his curse on him rebound; He took no delight in blessing— far from him may it be found.
18 He wore cursing as his garment— to his bones it soaked like oil; It poured down his throat like water. 19 May his curses round him coil.
May they cling to him for ever, wrapped around him like a cloak. 20 May this be the LORD’s repayment to those false, accusing folk.
I’d be surprised if anyone announced this was their favourite Psalm. It confronts us with such anger and vindictiveness, even against the enemy’s descendants. Surely we’re not like that, we people of the New Testament? Haven’t we moved on in our understanding of God, our God of love who forgives everyone who turns to Him in repentance? And as we exchange handshakes, hugs and smiles at church on Sunday morning, aren’t we living out of love and not this primitive desire for vindication when we are wronged?
But I wonder. Maybe this Psalm reveals something we’d prefer remained hidden. When lies are spoken against us, when we hurt and smart after simply doing our best, isn’t there a childlike cry in our hearts of ‘It’s not fair!’ And we all want fair, even though our parents’ answer to our cry was, so often, ‘Life’s not fair!’
God’s not fair either. We see in the Bible and in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus that God is not fair. He is outrageous. Outrageous in love. He calls us to take that momentous leap out of our child’s heart and into His, where there is empowering for a better way to deal with the injustices of life. Settling for ‘fair’ is way below second best.
‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.’ And give us Your outrageous love to bless those who do not bless us.
Dorothy Courtis, Elder and Lay Preacher, Wortwell URC.
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