A Grouchy Psalm

Psalm 120 (NLT)

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem.

I took my troubles to the Lord;
    I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer.
Rescue me, O Lord, from liars
    and from all deceitful people.
O deceptive tongue, what will God do to you?
    How will he increase your punishment?
You will be pierced with sharp arrows
    and burned with glowing coals.

How I suffer in far-off Meshech.
    It pains me to live in distant Kedar.
I am tired of living
    among people who hate peace.
I search for peace;
    but when I speak of peace, they want war!

By Chuck Griffin

Spend some time reading and praying the psalms, and you will soon notice that there seems to be at least one for every situation.

Psalm 120 is a good example. This psalm oozes with grouchiness, a vocal complaint from someone who has grown tired of the deceit around him. Traditionally, this psalm is attributed to David, written when he was under attack by fellow Israelites and forced to live among foreigners.

The psalmist craves a life among peaceful people, people who say what they mean and mean what they say, with no calculated corruption of what God has revealed to be holy and right. When he declares these deceptive tongues will be pierced by sharp arrows and burned by hot coals, his desire for revenge becomes clear.

We’ve all been there, some of us pretty recently. Tolerance is a powerful, Christ-like virtue. But it doesn’t take long for mere humans to become angry when we realize the people we have long tolerated are themselves intolerant, actively working to obfuscate God’s revealed truth.

When we’re feeling such anger, there is nothing wrong with praying this psalm out loud. Just keep that prayer in perspective. The psalmist doesn’t speak of arrows he will launch and burning coals he will impose on these people. Instead, he uses them as symbols of the punishment that God will deliver.

We take comfort in the great promise that the righteous will be rewarded, while the deceitful and manipulative will reap what they have sown.

Our main task in troubled times is to stay right with God. Just keep taking it all to the Lord.

Dear Lord, give us Christ-like demeanors in times of strife, and continue to offer us your grace when we are burdened with anger. Amen.

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