Reading through the Bible together

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

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This is another psalm of David. It is his cry for distress when he was being persecuted by people who were formerly his friends but who now repay his love with hatred. The psalm has three main sections:

Verses 1-10: David prays to God to "fight against those who fight against me." He wishes them to be defeated and put to shame. He wants destruction to come upon his enemy unexpectedly by falling into the very trap that his enemy has set for him.

Section two is verses 11-18 where David describes his enemies: They are false witnesses, accusing him of what he has not done. They reward him with evil for the good he has done for them. When they were sick, he fasted and prayed for them, thinking that they were true friends. David feels betrayed and denied when in his adversity, these "friends" rejoiced and joined together against him without his knowing.

The last division is verses 19-28. David appeals to God to intervene on his behalf. He prays that God would not allow his enemies to rejoice over him. He pleads that God would vindicate him that those who truly love him would shout for joy and praise God.

This psalm is an imprecatory psalm. These psalms "denounce the enemies of God and His people and bring down curses upon their heads. The tone of such psalms seems contradictory to the spirit that Christ declared should govern our attitude toward an enemy (Matt. 5: 44)" (Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol.3 page 624). Since the psalms are inspired, why the disparity? One explanation from the above commentary on the same page is this:

The denunciation of the sinner must be understood against the back-ground of the times in which they were written. In those days men expressed themselves in strong terms and with vigorous imagery. The Bible writers set forth their ideas in human language and in a style familiar to others. "The Bible is written by inspired men, but it is not God's mode of thought and expression. It is that of humanity. God, as a writer, is not represented. Men will often say such an expression is not like God. But God has not put Himself in words, in logic, rhetoric, on trial in the Bible" (Ellen G. White MS 24, 1886).

Father, it is not natural to love our enemies. But You have promised that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Give us the grace to always choose to love and do good to our enemies and we know that You can supply the power to do so. In Jesus' name. Amen!

 

Onaolapo Ajibade
Executive Secretary
West-Central Africa Division