Psalm 28 – Payback’s an Issue

Bible turned to Psalm 28 with Alter Eco dark velvet chocolate on zebra plate

Today’s passage: Psalm 28

Today’s chocolate: Alter Eco Dark Velvet organic chocolate

In this psalm, David gives us a window into another of his moves from disorientation to new orientation. In the first half, he prays for deliverance, and in the conclusion, he praises God for rescuing him. Simple, right? But when you consider how vitriolic David gets against the human sources of his trouble, the psalm is no longer quite so clear-cut.

In the middle of the psalm, David launches into an invective against wicked men that spans verses 3-5. In a nine-verse psalm, that’s a massive 33% by volume. As usual, he characterizes them as liars, as “those who work iniquity, who speak peace with their neighbors while evil is in their hearts” (3), and possibly worst of all, as those who “do not regard the works of the Lord” (5). Have you noticed that David hates lies? And even as he’s asking God not to drag him away with these evildoers, he repeatedly pleads for God to enact vengeance upon them: “Requite them according to their work and according to the evil of their practices” (4). Unlike some other psalms, he doesn’t call for God to outright kill them–just to give them what they deserve, whatever that may be. Perhaps David has learned that while he can recognize evil when he sees it, he’s better off leaving justice to God than presuming to know the fair penalty for these evildoers. Or perhaps this psalm has just caught David at–comparatively– one of his mellower moments.

Oddly enough, as soon as David turns the corner into new orientation, the evildoers are forgotten. We don’t know what happened to them, just that God came through and answered David’s cry for help. He says:

The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped;
Therefore my heart exults,
And with my song I shall thank Him. (7)

It’s clear here that he trusts God with his own fortune, but the unspoken conclusion is that he also trusts God with the fortune of his former oppressors. I can’t help but be reminded of the hymn “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus,” which declares, “The things of earth will grow strangely dim / In the light of His glory and grace.” We all want justice to be done, but retribution matters far less when you realize you can count on God to do good no matter what.

 

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