I felt really very angry! These people did not deserve the treatment they were receiving right before my eyes, and I said so. It was the early 1990’s and whenever the Hindus in neighbouring India did something to upset the minority Muslims then the reciprocal activity would take place in Pakistan. I can’t remember what happened in India but in UM, where we were living, the Muslim students were marching down the main road protesting. The minority Hindu shopkeepers, wisely, had closed their shops and were keeping out of the way, but this did not stop the students from looting and burning as they went. Although keeping a low profile, I said angrily to my Muslim friends nearby who were laughing at the student’s activities that only a short time ago these Hindus were their friends and neighbours. It was all so unfair!
So, in a sense, I can understand a little just how David felt as he prayed to God in the words of Psalm 35 when he said:
22 Lord, you have seen this; do not be silent.
Do not be far from me, Lord.
23 Awake, and rise to my defence!
Contend for me, my God and Lord.
24 Vindicate me in your righteousness, Lord my God;
do not let them gloat over me.
Although, in my situation the injustice was not being done to me but to others.
So, can we use this psalm today, in our own personal devotions or in communal worship?
Commentator Michael Wilcock suggests that we can. He says that we can use it “without embarrassment, even with profit”! He then gives “six suggestions” as to how we can do this. We shall check out two of these today.
Firstly, David was obviously and naturally upset about what his enemies were wrongly saying about him and accusing him of, and “even if David did feel vindictive…he would have been doing the right thing with his feelings: not taking the law into his own hands but committing the matter to God in prayer.” Wilcock emphasizes that “both Testaments make this point” quoting the following verse:
Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. (Romans 12:19 quoting from Deuteronomy 32:35)
Wilcock continues, “All the imprecatory psalms are prayers, in which God is being asked to do what only he, and not the psalmist, has the right and power to do.”
Secondly, David was right to feel angry at the injustice surrounding him, as I think I was also right, on that day in Pakistan, to stand up for those who were being treated so unfairly. Wilcock reminds us that “there are such things as right anger and proper hatred” quoting both the Old and New Testaments as follows:
In your anger do not sin. (Ephesians 4:26 quoting from Psalm 4:4) and
Hate what is evil. (Romans 12:9 quoting Amos 5:15)
“In a world where much really is hateful and where many things, and people, richly deserve our indignation,” says Wilcock, “easy-going Christians could learn something from David’s passion.”
Father, we remember the words of Micah 6:8 – “What does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” – and ask you to help us to be passionate towards others who are being treated unjustly that they may be vindicated and delivered from the hands of their enemies. Amen.