It Begins With An Intimate Plea…

Though I do not usually do this, I am beginning this meditation on this particular Psalm on a personal note. As I write, it is the day after the terrorist attacks in Paris and the news is still full of the horror of the events. It is ironic that this particular Psalm would come up on the schedule for my writing today as it seems to have a powerful and pertinent message in relationship to the evil done yesterday in Paris. This is an innocent man’s plaintive prayer to God for protection. It begins with an intimate plea: “Lord, my God, I take refuge in you; save and deliver me from all who pursue me…” (verse 1)

David knows he is an innocent man and he appeals to the Lord as only a truly innocent person can. He presents himself to the Lord in the Temple and swears an oath saying: “If there is guilt on my hands, then let my enemy pursue and overtake me; let them trample my life to the ground and make me sleep in the dust.” (verses 3-5) Because he is innocent, he asks God to vindicate him before the peoples and to “bring to an end the violence of the wicked.” (verse 9)

David can do this for two powerful reasons. First, he truly is innocent and he is being unjustly attacked by enemies with unjust intentions. Secondly, he has faith in God’s justice and trusts that God will shield him from the wicked. David knows in faith that God knows his mind and his heart are upright. He has faith, too, that the Lord will come to his aid. He also knows that those who are “pregnant with evil” will, in the end, bring themselves down, that the “troubles they cause [will] recoil on them; their violence [will] come down on their own heads.” (verses 14-16)

This is the truth. It is also true that those who are wicked can do much harm, and bring terrible suffering and injustice to bear on the innocent. But they are the greatest of fools, for God knows their hearts and minds, just as he knows the innocent mind and heart of David. In the end, they will fall into their own pits. God is Righteous and Just. We, like David can put our full trust in the Lord. His justice will have the final say. In the meantime, it is up to us to keep our own minds and hearts innocent. For, God will defend the innocent, he will be their mighty shield. His grace will give the innocent the strength to remain pure even in the face of the worst of troubles. He is our guard. He is the one who saves.

Let us keep our eyes fixed always on the Lord. Lord, give us the graces we need to remain innocent in mind and heart even in the midst of great injustices. We believe with our whole hearts, minds, and souls that you will always be with us, especially in the most troubling of times, and we join our voices with that of David, singing joyfully, “I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, The Most High.” We pray this in faith, hope, and love. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.
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