of ADVENT DEC. 16
This is a soldier's prayer in a foxhole.
My Uncle Dick told a story, if I can remember it correctly, of when he was in a foxhole at Normandy. He noticed a soldier beside him who had a rolled up magazine from his own denomination. That was a conversation starter as the soldier told him of his mother back home praying. This led to spiritual things and a prayer. It wasn't long before that man was taken out by enemy fire. My uncle did not know his name and could not tell his mother of his giving his heart over to the keeper of His soul before he died.
(Now someone would be demoted for publishing such an image.)
David was besieged by Saul. From the heart pounding thrust of a spear at him as a youth in the king's court, to King Saul's powerful army chasing after him. Perhaps David realized that you can pick your friends, but you can't pick your enemies. Thus these words...
"Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me;
It is oil upon the head;
Do not let my head refuse it.
For still my prayer is against their wicked deeds.
Their judges are thrown down by the sides of the rock.
And they hear my word, for they are pleasant.
As when one plows and breaks open the earth,
Our bones have been scattered at the mouth of Sheol.
For my eyes are toward You, O Lord;
In You I take refuge;
do not leave me defenseless.
Keep me from the jaws of the trap
which they have set against me,
And from the snares of those who do iniquity.
Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
While I pass by safely."
He begins by speaking of friends rather than enemies. "Let the righteous smite me." "Let the righteous chastise me in mercy, and instruct me; but let not the oil of the wicked anoint my head. It shall not adorn my head...The oil of the wicked may here mean his smooth flattering speeches; and the Psalmist intimates that he would rather suffer the cutting reproof of the righteous, than the oily talk of the flatterer." (Adam Clarke)
'Let the just one smite me, let the pious reprove me
Let not the ointment of the impious anoint my head
that still I will instruct in their calamities.'
(Christmas dinner at the Battle of the Bulge)
Personally, I could do without either. but as iron sharpens iron, we all need a little correction sometimes. I personally hate correction and do everything to the best of my ability to avoid it. However perfection is not humanly possible, so even I your humble blogger need a little smiting in kindness once in a while. It's the oily guys the Psalmist says we can speak out against their wicked ways. That, therein, is the dance: speak out against evil while using pleasant words. I haven't quite got the hang of that one yet.
Here's how it works in my house. My husband and I are on the same page spiritually. This is after those early years of college debating truth after we would come home from classes and sparks would fly. Sometimes we stayed up very late, and it got a little heated. We were forming our core characters. Now, it is a blessing like when my husband called me from the mall, the Galleria, to tell me something that excited him while reading Scripture. You see, nothing in that mall would interest him more than reading the Word of God. Even in the mall setting where he had taken the men under his charge to do a little Christmas shopping, he just sat and read. Shopping isn't his thing so he found a place to sit and do his thing. There was nothing better I could receive than this phone call to discuss a topic in Scripture that had captured us both.
As for the judges in the next verses, "refers to the judicature. The chief seats, authorities, etc. are swallowed up, as men are by the sea; as the ship is dashed against the rock, and broken to pieces. And this sense the following verse will justify. Our bones are scattered, etc. They beset me and my company so closely, we despair of life; and our bones must be scattered (as were the priests massacred at Nob) here and there in the wilderness, except Thou, O Lord, succor us." (Adam Clarke)
Oh my, how did God break up the judicature? He sent a helpless baby to overthrow the entire world. This event was not done in a political sense, but He is judge, jury, the prosecutor, and the defender. Those who sit in the big chairs will fall. All of history is a bloody struggle. I dare you to find hardly fifty years of peace anywhere on earth at any time. It is the persecuted and the persecutors. But the Prince of Peace has come to radicalize our hearts. So we can say with David,
"But mine eyes are unto Thee, O God the Lord:
in Thee is my trust;
leave not my soul destitute."
What did Mary say? As a pregnant teenage virgin she said...
"He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud
in the thoughts of their heart.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble."
It all comes down to humility, the understanding of who He is and who we are kind of perspective, our neediness before Him and our trust in His care. It's the only way we can escape out of this world and enter into a better one.
"But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity."
"For out of you shall come forth a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel."
In the meanwhile, while surrounded by the bones of those martyred or those brought down in power, while the wicked are busy as they "fall into their own nets, while I pass by safely" as I whistle past "the jaws of the trap they have set for me"...
"They shall hear my words;
for they are sweet."
"And they shall hear my words,
Sweet, pleasant words. Hmm.
Now that's a challenge,
But make merry Christmas in your heart!
But make merry Christmas in your heart!