January 23, 2014

Psalm 58

Is this any way to run a country?

Is there an honest politician in the house?

Behind the scenes you brew cauldrons of evil,

behind closed doors you make deals with demons.

The wicked crawl from the wrong side of the cradle;

their first words out of the womb are lies.

Poison, lethal rattlesnake poison,
drips from their forked tongues—

Deaf to threats, deaf to charm,

decades of wax built up in their ears.

God, smash their teeth to bits,
leave them toothless tigers.

Let their lives be buckets of water spilled,
all that’s left, a damp stain in the sand.

Let them be trampled grass

worn smooth by the traffic.

Let them dissolve into snail slime,

be a miscarried fetus that never sees sunlight.

Before what they cook up is half-done, God,

throw it out with the garbage!

The righteous will call up their friends

when they see the wicked get their reward,

Serve up their blood in goblets
as they toast one another,

Everyone cheering, “It’s worth it to play by the rules!
God’s handing out trophies and tending the earth!”

This version of Psalm 58 comes from The Message, an increasingly popular translation by pastor-scholar-poet Eugene Peterson. I myself don’t use it much, but sometimes it conveys the grittiness of the Bible much better. As I’ve said before the psalms are a brutally honest pouring out of the heart, and sometimes—as here—the feeling is unvarnished anger and desire for revenge. Yes, yes, as Christians we are supposed to transform all that nastiness and turn it into love of enemies. But doesn’t it feel good to honestly express before God what we really feel, before our Christian heart and mind kicks in?

March for Life

More than that, we need our anger. As one of the speakers at the March for Life said yesterday, we can’t begin to change what’s wrong in the world unless we are first disturbed, troubled and angry. This gives us the passion, energy and perseverance to do something about it. Even when others disagree.

Short diary entry today as we are on the way back to the Chancery from Washington DC. I’ll write more about the March for Life tomorrow.