Scripture Focus: Psalm 52.1
1 Why do you boast of evil, you mighty hero?
Why do you boast all day long,
you who are a disgrace in the eyes of God?
10 “ ‘Because they lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash, 11 therefore tell those who cover it with whitewash that it is going to fall. Rain will come in torrents, and I will send hailstones hurtling down, and violent winds will burst forth. 12 When the wall collapses, will people not ask you, “Where is the whitewash you covered it with?”
Reflection: Responding to Political Violence
By John Tillman
Today’s scriptures show us David’s response to violent men like Doeg the Edomite in Psalm 52 and a faithless culture that denies God in Psalm 53.1-2 and they seem particularly relevant.
Political violence, like that committed by Doeg, was still the norm during Jesus’ ministry. The disciples were familiar with political murders and slaughters of innocents that would be shocking in today’s world.
It is part of our modern vanity that we falsely believe ourselves beyond the violence of previous ages. Despite our sense of moral superiority, we have not advanced beyond violence for political ends.
Our political rancor has reached the point of normalizing violence. In the dystopian novel, 1984, Orwell described ”The Ministry of Peace” which dealt in war. The dystopian “War is Peace” concept has been gradually adopted by all political groups, Christians not excluded.
It seems more and more Christians are willing to whitewash politically motivated violence as necessary self-defense. We have sunk to the point that political opponents (left and right) cheer their violent allies and point to violent opponents as justification for further violence. Such violent language unfailingly leads to murder in the streets.
If trends continue, there will soon be an event similar to the Kent State shootings. For Christians to fail to condemn, or worse, to directly endorse this type of violence is a great moral and theological failing.
Ezekiel spoke to whitewashing prophets of his day who glossed over the weakness “a wall” they claimed would defend the faithful from harm. Ezekiel told his listeners (and tells us) that everything they trusted in more than God would be destroyed and they would watch it fall in horror.
While psalmists and prophets often cheer the wielders of violence, Jesus sets a new standard for us when he calls us to bless and not curse, to turn the other cheek to insults, and to go the extra mile, enduring under oppression.
We are called to stand up for and support those who are being oppressed to aid them, defend them, and speak out for them.
We are called to endure patiently our own oppression, ensuring that we are suffering for doing good, not for doing evil.
May we remember that responding to oppression is not about vengeance or self-defense.
Our response must be one of remaining faithful in what we say and do, while patiently suffering the consequences of doing good.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to another.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or the land and the earth were born, from age to age you are God. — Psalm 90.1-2– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle
Read more about Choosing Gentleness Over Violence
The language of many Christians and prominent Christian pastors has followed [the world], growing combative, disrespectful, and even violent.
Read more about Abandoning Human Vengeance
We must be the first to break the chain of retaliatory and violent rhetoric.
We must abandon human vengeance before we can see divine justice.