Let them know that you, whose name is the Lord —
that you alone are the Most High over all the earth. (Ps 83:17-18)
An imprecatory psalm is not a rare find as you pore over the pages of the Psalter. Again and again, Israel cries out to Yahweh to destroy the enemies arrayed against her, for His own good! In 83 as elsewhere, the Israelites look out at their borders and see, what to them must have been, the entire world turn enemy. They find no hope within and raise prayers of violent redemption to God. Save us, they intone. Save us so that the world will see that You are God!
Wasn’t that supposed to be the witness of Israel herself?
In covenant relationship, Israel was to stand as an example of the good that comes from being the chosen of the Most High over all the earth. They’re repeated failures to do so are found in the same pages of the Old Testament that continue their pleas for the destruction of others. To read both Ezekiel and the Psalms at the same time is to read the same story from two different perspectives. The words of God who directs the punishment of Israel by her enemies go unheeded.
Is it possible we do the same today? Do we ask the Lord to remove the consequence of sin from our lives while continuing to ignore the demand for holiness that the Spirit reminds us of regularly? We fail to see the corrections that come into our lives as being delivered by the same One from whom we seek relief. We might do better to review the history before us in the pages of Scripture, and learn more about the way God works. Rather than prayers for relief, we should pray for insight into that in our lives that is displeasing to our Lord.
Grace and peace to you..
image by xdop