I would love the words of today’s Psalm to be true – especially that bit about God breaking the teeth of the wicked! It’s a delightful image of some measured violence which punishes but doesn’t go full on smiting. If God isn’t going to smite Mr Putin then maybe some broken teeth might not be a bad alternative. Maybe the police in France who have been busy breaking teeth might consider the pain if their teeth were broken instead. Maybe if our teeth were broken on the pollution we cause we’d think more clearly.
The Psalmist’s cry to God to bless the people is coupled with a realistic sense of the problems of the age. The Psalmist clearly lived in troubled times with armies arranged around the people and doom being a real possibility. We live in an insecure age with a war of aggression being waged in Europe, with Chinese expansion plans threatening Taiwan and continuing to subsume Tibet. The Earth itself cries out with rage at the pillage and rape we inflict upon her; our climate changes as a doom laden warning of what is to come. Unlike the Psalmist our sleep is not so easy.
The Psalmist was taunted by the idea that God would not come and help; we know now that whilst we may sing that our help comes from the Lord, in reality we have to help ourselves and our neighbours. We have to help to change our lifestyles, our constant plunder of the earth and learn to live in harmony with creation – even though that means huge changes. Only then will the Lord bless the people.
Break our teeth Lord until we see that you are God. Break our teeth Lord until we see the Earth as our home worthy of reverence, demanding of partnership and respect, break our teeth Lord that we might be saved. Amen
The Rev’d Andy Braunston is the URC’s Minister of Digital Worship and a member of the Peedie Kirk URC in Orkney.