Faith and Violence
Holy One, in this season of waiting, of preparation, I prepare my heart for Your coming.
Read PSALM 140:1-13
 For the director of music. A psalm of David.
Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“Love people when they least expect it and least deserve it” (Mark Batterson).
Shortly after these notes are completed I am due to fly to a country where Christians face a constant threat of violence. This psalm could hardly be more relevant in such a situation. The author twice asks for protection from “the violent” (1,4), who are described as daily causing war! In such a context people who are poor and needy (12), who are the most vulnerable to the threat of violence, may be tempted either to give way to a paralyzing fear or to respond with their own retaliatory violence. Those of us who live in conditions of peace and stability cannot judge others who face pressures we can barely comprehend, yet the psalmist reacts in neither of these ways. First, he reaffirms his faith in the God who “secures justice for the poor” (6,12); and second, he asks the Lord who “upholds the cause of the needy” to deal with the men of violence.
The request that “burning coals” might fall on the heads of those planning wicked deeds (10) is echoed elsewhere in the Bible. In the book of Proverbs the righteous are told to feed their enemies and provide them with water to drink and by such acts of kindness to bring “burning coals” on their heads (Prov. 25:21-22). Paul quotes these verses with the specific injunction, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:17-21). The first believers in Rome lived among the poorest and most oppressed people in the empire, yet Paul calls them to show the power of a revolutionary love through which even violent enemies can be convicted and transformed. This is not an easy path to tread, but the psalm concludes with the conviction that “the righteous will praise your name, and the upright will live in your presence.”
Take a few moments to identify a group of Christians facing the threat of violence. Pray for them in the light of this psalm.
Loving Father, help me to feel the anguish of those who suffer for their faith; help them to know that the Body of Christ is joined with them in sympathy and prayer.
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