The first casualties of upheaval can be love, kindness, and patience. But crisis is also a moment when love for God & one another can spring up. For 150 days, starting on 17th March 2020, I will write 300 words based on one of the 150 psalms in the bible. How can I find and give love in the midst of coronavirus?
I’m a bit of a nerd. I have a tendency to chuck words into conversations that other people don’t know. And then take pleasure in being asked what they mean. It’s sad, isn’t it? Recently I did this by throwing schadenfreude into a conversation. It’s a German word that means taking pleasure in the pain or misfortune of others. It’s not a very godly characteristic.
But, it looks like the writer of Psalm 52 (King David again) is doing just that. Have a listen:
5 Surely God will bring you down to everlasting ruin: he will snatch you up and pluck you from your tent; he will uproot you from the land of the living. 6 The righteous will see and fear; they will laugh at you, saying, 7 ‘Here now is the man who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth and grew strong by destroying others!’
David is going on about a guy called Doeg (1Samuel 21-22). And he really lays into him – calling down God’s judgement for Doeg’s actions. Now, whilst it’s true that Doeg didn’t do right – is all this cursing and harsh judgement godly? Should I be doing this to others? Should I be calling people out on their behaviour like this?
So how should I respond to this psalm? What do I do with this? Should I turn it into a song and sing it during church services (like we do with other Psalms)?
We do what Jesus tells us to do. We first look to take the log out of our own eye before we try and take the speck out of someone else’s eye (Matthew 7:1-5). It’s not that Doeg was a good guy – it’s just that Jesus calls David, and us, to start with looking at ourselves first – before we start looking at other’s sins.
If you find psalms like this a challenge to read – then may I encourage you to get hold of CS Lewis’s book “Reflections on the Psalms”? It is excellent on all of this – and short (I like short books).
But, and it’s a big but. The Psalm ends well. David describes himself and his relationship with God – and the blessing that comes from it.
8 But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God’s unfailing love for ever and ever. 9 For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.
So, let’s pray verses 8-9. May we be those who trust in God and flourish. Let’s not be like Doeg – but also let’s not get into judging everyone else around us – let’s start by looking at the log in our own eye.
May you be blessed today. Love Matt