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REMATCH: THE OLD ENEMIES
June 7, 2004
 
The psalms at Morning Prayer are taken from among those "enemy" ones -- psalms that ask God to rain down all manner of horror upon unnamed foes. They're pretty graphic, these songs -- especially when you reflect upon the fact that they were probably sung in worship services.

What hymns shall we sing this week, Mary?

Oh, let's have the one about how God will heap up the corpses. I just love that one!

Most nice people don't like these psalms. They're just too violent. It's embarrassing to read them, and to think that this stuff is in the Bible. A confession: I adore them. I look forward to them.

I know they're awful. But it helps me to know that our ancestors were flawed. I'm flawed. It's encouraging to think that God works with us even though we're flawed.

Besides, I have a use for them. I don't think it's a use the people who wrote them had in mind -- I think they were talking about real flesh-and-blood enemies, and real horrific punishment. But never mind that now. I have another use:

These days, I feel an old enemy returning -- I have been plagued all my life with depression, and I am particularly vulnerable when I am tired or under more stress than usual. Lately, I have felt its discouragements creeping back. And the blood-and-guts psalms help:

Have mercy on me, O God, for my enemies are hounding me; all day long they assault and oppress me.

The jerks. I don't know why it happens, but the spirits of sadness and worthlessness just show up sometimes. The jerks.

I am not without help. This has happened before and He will send forth heaven and save me; he will confound those who trample upon me.... Hee hee. I can't wait. I feel better just thinking about it.

They are venomous as a serpent; they are like the deaf adder which stops its ears. That's for sure: knowing that thoughts of worthlessness aren't true makes absolutely no difference to the depressed. We know that -- in our heads. It's our hearts that do not know. It is as if we couldn't hear the good things about us. People who rush to reassure us about how wonderful we are make us feel worse.

At such times, the constant presence of God is all there is.
Exalt yourself above the heavens, O God; and your glory over all the earth. My heart is firmly fixed; I will sing and make melody.
I may be a mess, but God is here and eventually I will be back here, too. I will do the things I usually do to get back: get some rest, see what stressors I can throw overboard, probably resume the medicine I wish I didn't have to take. But I have a fixed reference point, even if my own direction is confused at the moment. Ah. Just remembering that helps.

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Ps 56:1; Ps 57:3; Ps 58:4; Ps 57:6-7
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