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?
The most popular and quoted bible verse of the 20th century John 3:16
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
The most popular and quoted bible verse of the 21st century is Jeremiah 29:11
11 For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
You see them on posters, on the lockscreen on people’s phones, they are on leaflets, people share them online regularly.
Trust me, the verses in Psalm 58 will never be the ones you will be sharing with friends on Instagram or writing on the bottom of a Get Well Soon card. It is judgement, in the harshest terms, on unjust rulers and on the “wicked”. Get a load of this:
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.
Now, the slug comment is a good insult, but I will not be asking the music team at my church to turn this psalm into a song that we can sing in a service. So, what do I do with this psalm?
Well, David is angry with rulers who are unjust. There are a lot of unjust rulers in the history of our world – and we should be angry about the injustice. God is angry about injustice. David’s anger, however, is directed in the way that he understands – “God, smite them! God, kill them!”. This, I would suggest is not the way of the cross of Jesus. God will judge all the earth, and all of us – but the cross of Jesus means that He is longing for everyone, including unjust leaders, to come to him in repentance and forgiveness.
So as I read this psalm I firstly pray for unjust leaders to change, or to be removed from their leadership.
But, and it’s a big but, I also need to do what Jesus says about specks and logs (Matthew 7:1-5). I am a leader. I am a ruler. We all are. We may not be prime minister, or the mayor, or the director of a big company or a headteacher – but we all have responsibility for others somewhere. Our children, our partners, our colleagues at work, people in church, members of our sports club. Almost all of us do. And we need to look at ourselves. Here is verse one:
1 Do you rulers indeed speak justly? Do you judge people with equity?
That’s it. Do I speak justly about those I am responsible for? Do I speak kindly and truthfully about them? And do I make my decisions about them fairly – with equity?
God, make us leaders who speak justly, and decide fairly. Amen.
Have a blessed day. Love Matt