Today’s Chocolate: Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with 88% Cocoa
Today’s Passage: Psalm 140
Coyote Justice watch: v.9
I’ve never been in a fistfight. One time I got into a tussle with my brother and shoved him into a pine bush (which I almost immediately regretted), but I’ve never thrown a real, honest-to-goodness, let’s-hurt-someone punch. David, on the other hand, has been in battles. He’s used a sling to kill lions and bears and a huge Philistine warrior; he’s picked up a sword and fought people who want to kill him. Dude wasn’t just a king and a musician, he was also a soldier. So, you know, psalms like Psalm 140 are a little foreign to me.
But not entirely. I know there are evil men out there, even if they’re not planning to put a sword through my gut. So when David prays, “Rescue me, O Lord, from evil men; preserve me from violent men who devise evil things in their hearts…Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked” (1-2, 4), I can get that, because it’s not just a soldier thing. David may state, “O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, You have covered my head in the day of battle” (7), but his enemies are also conspirators and deceivers, vipers with poison in their words.
So David prays for God to protect him and to thwart the aims of the wicked men around him. He prays, “Do not grant, O Lord, the desires of the wicked; do not promote his evil device, that they not be exalted” (8). And I feel that. I feel like the evil men around me are looking to gain money and power at others’ expense; I feel like they’re willing to cook the planet with carbon dioxide emissions to increase their own wealth; I feel like they’re willing to let people die rather than to profit slightly less off the prescription drugs and health insurance they’re selling. And I feel powerless against them. What can I do but ask God to keep them from getting what they want?
David also asks for retribution against his enemies. ““As for the head of those who surround me, may the mischief of their lips cover them” (9) he prays–remember coyote justice? He asks God to cover them with burning coals, a theme that his son Solomon also picked up in one of his proverbs: “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head” (Proverbs 25:21-22). And Paul quotes the proverb in Romans 12:18-21. David may seem vengeful, but at least he leaves the decision to God when it comes to taking vengeance (cf. 1 Samuel 24, 26).
And at the end of the day, it’s not about whether I identify with the psalm or whether I’ve felt what David’s feeling. It’s about justice. And David concludes with confidence, “I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted and justice for the poor” (12). So here I am, praying that I’ll know God better, and maybe someday I, too, will know with David’s certainty that the Lord goes to bat for the poor and afflicted.