PRAYING FOR DISARMAMENT
Thank you, Almighty God—you hold the world in your hands and nothing is beyond your reach. I long to be an instrument of your healing and peace.
Read PSALM 58
For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” Of David. A miktam.[b]
1 Do you rulers indeed speak justly?
Do you judge people with equity?
2 No, in your heart you devise injustice,
and your hands mete out violence on the earth.
3 Even from birth the wicked go astray;
from the womb they are wayward, spreading lies.
4 Their venom is like the venom of a snake,
like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears,
5 that will not heed the tune of the charmer,
however skillful the enchanter may be.
6 Break the teeth in their mouths, O God;
Lord, tear out the fangs of those lions!
7 Let them vanish like water that flows away;
when they draw the bow, let their arrows fall short.
8 May they be like a slug that melts away as it moves along,
like a stillborn child that never sees the sun.
9 Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns—
whether they be green or dry—the wicked will be swept away.[c]
10 The righteous will be glad when they are avenged,
when they dip their feet in the blood of the wicked.
11 Then people will say,
“Surely the righteous still are rewarded;
surely there is a God who judges the earth.”
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Pray frequently and fervently ‘for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.’1
Today’s psalm has three sections: denouncement of injustice (vs 1–5); disarming the unjust (vs 6–9); delighting in God’s justice (vs 10,11). David denounces injustice in high places. The problem isn’t weak leaders who are flawed and subject to human frailties, but evil leaders who willfully misuse their position. These rulers don’t just fail to prevent and punish violence but are themselves perpetrators of violence (vs 1,2). The sequence of ‘heart’ and ‘hands’ portrays premeditated evil: ‘calculated ruthlessness, thought out and meted out … with businesslike efficiency.’2 Lord Acton famously observed that ‘Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’3 The snake metaphor signifies that abuse of power, their ‘venom’ (v 4), is deadly; and it is doubly dangerous when rulers silence the voice of their own dulled conscience and grow deaf to reason, ignoring even their own counselors (vs 4,5).
Cold-blooded evil demands a hot-blooded response! Although David’s plea (vs 6–9) grates on modern sensibilities, it is not a bloodthirsty call for revenge but a passionate plea for disarmament that renders evil rulers impotent: let ‘teeth’ or ‘fangs’ (v 6) be removed to prevent deadly bites, let ill-intentioned ‘arrows’ miss their mark (v 7), let evil plans be ‘stillborn’ (v 8), never coming to fruition. As the unjust are disarmed, the righteous delight in justice restored (vs 10,11). On the battlefield, even soldiers on the right side cannot escape being stained by blood. So, although verse 10 doesn’t advocate vindictive gloating, it does imply that God’s people must fight against all that is unholy. The modern Christian’s call to battle seldom involves physical attack – unlike the case of Phinehas or the Midianite war4 – but it does involve fighting unjust structures and systems and the forces of evil.5
Pray for courage and strength for defenders of justice in your neighborhood, workplace, or nation.
Father, the world’s happenings can overwhelm me. Help me to apply your Word and have your perspective each day.
1 1 Tim 2:2 2 Derek Kidner, TOTC: Psalms 1–72, IVP, 1973, p208 3 Lord Acton (1834-1902) in a letter to Archbishop Mandell Creighton, April 5 1887 4 See notes for August 18 and 25 5 Eph 6:10–18
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