Slow your breathing and become aware of the taking in and letting out of your breath. Focus on putting things aside so you will be open to what God is saying to you today.
Psalm 58 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
To the leader: Do Not Destroy. Of David. A Miktam.
Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods?
Do you judge people fairly?
No, in your hearts you devise wrongs;
your hands deal out violence on earth.
The wicked go astray from the womb;
they err from their birth, speaking lies.
They have venom like the venom of a serpent,
like the deaf adder that stops its ear,
so that it does not hear the voice of charmers
or of the cunning enchanter.
O God, break the teeth in their mouths;
tear out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord!
Let them vanish like water that runs away;
like grass let them be trodden down and wither.
Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime;
like the untimely birth that never sees the sun.
Sooner than your pots can feel the heat of thorns,
whether green or ablaze, may he sweep them away!
The righteous will rejoice when they see vengeance done;
they will bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.
People will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous;
surely there is a God who judges on earth.”
During a time in my life when I felt I was being treated very unfairly, I came across the Rascal Flatts’ song “Stand.” The part of the song that spoke to me most was:
You might bend till you break
‘Cause it’s all you can take
On your knees, you look up
Decide you’ve had enough
You get mad, you get strong
Wipe your hands, shake it off
Then you stand, then you stand
Rascall Flatts describes the process as getting mad before getting strong. Psalm 58 is the “You get mad” part of the process. It is a prayer of retribution and imprecation. The psalmist is being honest by wishing he could bathe his feet in the blood of his enemies. In this prayer (and the Psalms are simply prayers set to poetry and music), the Psalmist never makes it to a godly response. I’ve prayed similar prayers that never made it there initially either. But following Jesus and praying for our enemies long enough will eventually turn our hearts and guide our actions in the way God wants them to go.
As someone once said, “Once a man was asked what he gained by regularly praying. His response was, ‘Nothing. But let me tell you what I have lost: anger, greed, insecurity, and fear. Sometimes the answer to our prayers is not gaining, but losing.’”
Get mad. But before you get even, go down on your knees and look up.
God of forgiveness and love,
Thank you for the gift of letting me be honest with you. I can’t hide my feelings from you, so thank you for letting me offer them to you unfiltered and uncensored. Turn both my heart and my actions in the direction you want them to go. Until I am ready for that, give me the patience to return to you again and again. In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Go with God!