If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
To say that this year has been difficult for our country (and for the world) is an understatement.
COVID-19 began with fear and panic for loved ones and lost jobs. A soaring unemployment rate and crowded hospital rooms (and hallways!) were a reality in every state and is still a current reality in a number of them. This global pandemic rocked the world and turned from fear and panic for many to isolation, frustration, and discouragement.
As if this weren’t enough to cause distress and general life disruption, the protests around the world would do it. The deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, then at the end of May, the killing of George Floyd, ignited a worldwide response. Protests in 50 countries and over 140 cities across the United States demonstrated their feelings of anger, pain, hurt, and overwhelmed people of all backgrounds and ethnicities, but especially people of color.
A book could be written about each of these incidents and how they have impacted the world forever. I am sure that books will be written. And yet we find ourselves, right now, living in these moments and walking through these historic times. How are we to respond?
Psalm 139, in my opinion, is one of the most poetic and beautiful psalms written by David. I would encourage you to read it in its entirety here. It begins with this intimate picture of the closeness of God, it reflects on his nearness and how well God knows us.
David then takes a very interesting turn in verse 19 - 22. Of course, no one ever quotes these verses! At first when I read these words as a young Jesus follower, as someone who really doesn’t like conflict, I skipped over them. They made me uncomfortable and I honestly didn’t know how to make sense of them. It wasn’t until I walked through my own difficult season that this took on more meaning and I began to see its value.
“If only God you would slay the wicked!” Wow. David gets very real with God! He lays his heart on the table. He holds nothing back. He literally uses the word hate to describe how he feels 3 times. David is not hiding anything from God.
Do you communicate with God like this? CAN you communicate with God like this? I think that we need to be open to the fact that God wants to hear from our heart. He wants the raw us, the REAL us. If we can’t bring that to God, then how can he make us whole? If we don’t bring it to him, how can we lay it at his feet?
I would like to briefly mention how small this “raw section” is compared to the rest of the psalm that speaks the truth of God’s presence. But without this very real way of communicating with him, how can we honestly ask him to, “search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”
It is verses 19-22 that give the final, perhaps the most famous, verses in this psalm a real leg to stand on. David is speaking his very real feelings and setting an example for us to do so as well. With all that is going on in our world please know that expressing the deepest places of pain, anger, fear, hurt, and anxiety is where God wants to meet us. But we have to be brave enough to take them to him.