Tag Archives: Psalm 64

Unraveling

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Hear me, my God, as I voice my complaint;
    protect my life from the threat of the enemy.

Psalm 64:1 (NIV)

Stepping up and into the spotlight of leadership always makes one an easy target. In virtually every position of leadership I’ve ever held, I’ve heard the sharp words of detractors. Typically, they come in the form of second-hand whispers or passive-aggressive remarks. The higher the position of leadership, the worse it gets. The positions of leadership I’ve held along my life journey are incredibly minor in the grand scheme of things. I may have faced challenges leading a small-town Iowa community theatre and a rural gathering of Jesus followers, but I can’t imagine how bad it gets leading a nation.

Today’s chapter, Psalm 64, is a lament of King David as he feels the sharp threats of conspiracy and the plots of his political enemies. One lesson every good leader knows is that you can’t control the thoughts, words, or actions of others. Trying to chase down and confront every critic or perceived antagonist is a recipe for disaster on several levels. David appears to have understood this well. The lyrics of this song stand as a testament to the fact that when it came to the twisted plots and the conspiratorial attacks of his enemies, David went to God.

Knowing that he had no control over his critics or their schemes, David gave them over to the only one he could count on in the situation.

Lying beneath the surface of the lyrics, David hid a creative, poetic image. Most of it survives the translation into English, but it’s seen with clarity in Hebrew, David’s native language. David uses specific words to metaphorically describe those twisted plots of his enemy:

evildoers (vs. 2)
tongues (vs. 3)
shoot (vs. 4)
suddenly (vs. 4)

In the second half of the song, as his lyrics describe God defending him and unraveling those twisted plots, he uses the same words in reverse order:

suddenly (vs. 7)
shoot (vs. 7)
tongues (vs. 8)
works of God (vs. 9)

The same words used in reverse order are a hidden metaphor. David is entrusting God to unravel the conspiracy, untwist the plots, and protect David from those enemies he can’t control.

In the quiet this morning I find myself, in a small way, identifying with David’s plight. I’ve learned in this life journey that all I can do is to keep pressing on, asking for God’s guidance, seeking God’s purposes for me, and knocking on the door of every opportunity I have to grow in love, grace, and mercy. There will be obstacles, burdens, critics, detractors, and attacks. Those are all part of the journey. I will never be able to completely avoid, nor control them.

So every time those obstacles, burdens, critics, detractors, and attacks have my heart and mind twisted up in anxious knots, I have Psalm 64 to remind me what David did. He gave them over to God like Wendy handing me a necklace that’s hopelessly knotted up.

“Here, unravel this.”

Want to Read More?

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About This Post

These chapter-a-day posts began in 2006. It’s a very simple concept. I endeavor each weekday to read one chapter from the Bible. I then blog about my thoughts, insights, and feelings about the content of that chapter. Everyone is welcome to share this post, like this post, or add your own thoughts in a comment. Thank you to those who have become faithful, regular or occasional readers along the journey along with your encouragement.

In 2019 I began creating posts for each book, with an indexed list of all the chapters for that book. You can find the indexed list by clicking on this link.

Prior to that, I kept a cataloged index of all posts on one page. You can access that page by clicking on this link.

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tomvanderwell@gmail.com @tomvanderwell

The Implosion of Evil

Chapter-a-Day Psalm 64

Their own tongues will ruin them,
    and all who see them will shake their heads in scorn.
Psalm 64:8 (NLT)

Wendy and I spent a quiet Thanksgiving Day at home yesterday, just the two of us. In the morning we found ourselves in a wonderful, meandering conversation. At one point we rhetorically asked ourselves how many people around the country would be sitting down to Thanksgiving meal to truly enjoy a grateful feast and how many would sit down to the same feast to medicate the emptiness and the dissatisfaction I pondered in yesterday’s post. There is a difference between feasting and gluttony. So it is with so many things in life, Wendy and I concluded. God gives us a natural appetite meant for our good, and then says, “I’ve set before you life and death.” We can choose to channel that appetite to things that ultimately bring about more fullness of life and glorify our Creator, or we can channel that appetite into choices that slowly drain life from us, ultimately leading us toward death.

I thought about that conversation as I read the lyrics of today’s psalm which was David’s exploration and meditation on evil people. I found the above verse interesting because it is a theme I see time and time again from Narnia to Middle Earth to Hogwarts and to Shakespeare’s entire catalog of stories. Evil ends up imploding from within. While the forces of good always rise up to combat it, evil tends to get tripped up in its own snares  and to bring about its own destruction.

This is part of the universal Truth of God’s creation. Evil cannot not make, it can only mar. Evil stands in opposition to good just as death stands in opposition to life. Like the wicked described in today’s psalm, evil lies and deceives to further its own ends only to get tripped up by its own lie. At its core, evil is about destruction. It’s no wonder it ends up destroying itself. Good is about creating and recreating life. It’s no wonder it ends up redeeming, restoring and making broken things new again.

I am reminded this morning of God’s words to Moses and the gang in Deuteronomy 30. This is what I’m taking with me into my day:

“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life….”