For Those Who are Angry

17 Feb

Psalm 129 speaks of the pain of abuse. The systematic abuse of the people of Israel and the angry that is caused when life is fundamentally unfair. This has not been an experience in my life, but as I read through the psalm I think of so many people who have lived and continue to live in unjust and inhuman circumstances.

I took my Dad to see 12 Years a Slave because he really wanted to see it. Where he was born in the late 1920 they had workers who were black who helped to work his family’s farm. I think he wanted to see what the movie portrayed about the life of a slave. It is an incredible film. I found it extremely difficult to watch because I knew how true it was and that there are still people today who live in that kind of painful and hopeless reality. So, when the psalmist says, “their plowmen plowed long furrows up and down my back”, I can only think of the many scenes in the movie where human being are whipped repeatedly.

129 1-4 “They’ve kicked me around ever since I was young”
—this is how Israel tells it—
“They’ve kicked me around ever since I was young,
but they never could keep me down.
Their plowmen plowed long furrows
up and down my back;
Then God ripped the harnesses
of the evil plowmen to shreds.”

The psalmist looks with hope to God destroying the evil plowmen. For those who have experienced systemic evil throughout their lives, God often is the only source of hope.

Finally, the psalmist takes out their pain on “those who hate Zion”, i.e. those who have persecuted the people of Israel. The imagines are ones that agrarian people would know well; crops that withers before they are harvested – life giving grain that cannot bring life.

5-8
Oh, let all those who hate Zion
grovel in humiliation;
Let them be like grass in shallow ground
that withers before the harvest,
Before the farmhands can gather it in,
the harvesters get in the crop,
Before the neighbors have a chance to call out,
“Congratulations on your wonderful crop!
We bless you in God’s name!”

The angry in this psalm is for the oppressors who have stolen the hope of a life with dignity. God is the only hope to bring this evil to justice. For me it is important to remember that our requirement of God is to “Seek justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God”.

Peace

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