Monday 1 July 2013

In the Right

I contributed this week’s ‘Word for the Week’, a weekly email service provided by the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity.

LORD my God, I take refuge in you;
save and deliver me from all who pursue me,
or they will tear me apart like a lion
and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me...
I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness;
I will sing the praises of the name of the LORD Most High.
Psalm 7:1-2, 17

‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.’ Of course, for most of us, that’s simply not the case. Names designed to hurt us do hurt us. What others say about us matters, particularly if what is said is untrue or amounts to false accusation or represents an attack on our character.

King David knew what that felt like. In Psalm 6, David confesses he has done wrong and asks God for mercy. In Psalm 7, however, David believes he is in the right, and has done no wrong. In fact, he has been wronged, and he longs for God to step in and vindicate him. (Incidentally, that’s why we need all the Psalms – for Psalm 6 moments as well as Psalm 7 moments.)

David begins by bringing his fears to God, by seeking refuge in him. He uses the graphic language of a lion capturing and killing its prey. Many of us will have witnessed such sights caught on film for TV documentaries, but David would doubtless have seen it with his own eyes. And that’s what he feels like. ‘Unless you save me’, he prays, ‘I will be torn to pieces by this.’ In those moments when we feel so overwhelmed – whether by false accusation or anything else – we can place ourselves in the Lord’s hands, seeking the deliverance only he can bring.

This Psalm closes, as many do, with an expression of praise, and it’s important to note where the final emphasis falls. Whose righteousness is really at stake? David has said things about his own ‘righteousness’, but he gives thanks because of God’s righteousness. David knows, having prayed, that God will act for the well-being of his people. Sooner or later, whether directly or indirectly, God will set things straight.

Psalm 7, like other Psalms, provides a way of praying through the issues of everyday life, bringing ourselves and our circumstances to God, trusting his presence to be with us. Beyond that, as those who are ‘in Christ’, the truly righteous king, we have been declared right with God, set free from the declaration of guilt and judgment that hung over us, confident that our shield is God most high. Truly we can give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and praise the name of the Lord most high.

No comments: