“O God, do not be silent!
Do not be deaf. Do not be quiet, O God.
Don’t you hear the uproar of your enemies?
Don’t you see that your arrogant enemies are rising up?
“Come,” they say, “let us wipe out Israel as a nation.
We will destroy the very memory of its existence.””
Psalms 83:1-2, 4 NLT
Feelings of fear and anxiety are rising up in Israel. The Jewish people see their enemies amassing their military assets just over the border. They hear other reports of enemy alliances, conspiring to eliminate the Jews from the face of the earth. And they are fearful. You can just imagine the talk on street corners, in the pub, over the dinner tables. Ratcheting up the feelings of worry and helplessness, as they look up the road or at the horizon, scanning for signs of the coming of war. The menfolk taking their swords and spears out of the rafters, polishing and sharpening, but hoping they won’t be needed. And then along comes Asaph the writer of this Psalm. “Wake up, God!” was his cry. And he forensically lays out before God the scale of the problem. The military intelligence. The predicament God’s people were in. As if God wasn’t aware of what was going on. And Asaph continues with some graphic details of what he wanted God to do about the situation. Some theologians have concluded that this Psalm may have been a prophesy about Israel’s Six Day war in 1967. But however the situation appears today, Israel was in a pickle.
The world as we know it has always seemed to be gripped by strife. Both within and without nations. And the pettiest of situations seems to ignite a response far beyond reason. There seems to be something within human beings that reacts badly when provoked. Pride, individual and national, rears its ugly head. Political leaders stir up dissent, stoking the embers of nationalism into flames of strife. And before people can take stock of what is happening, another unnecessary war erupts, with death and destruction following.
As Christians, how should we respond to social unrest, to wars, to nationalistic threats, to all types of aggression? Jesus’s teaching was clear. He counter-culturally taught about loving enemies. Going the second mile. Giving in to aggressive acts. Because by doing so we would then display God’s love for people through us. Difficult I know, but we have to take the long view. Perhaps one day how we have responded in love to an aggressive situation will birth the seed of a new life in Christ. So we bring our natural feelings of anger to the Cross, asking God to deal with them, and the situation that is bothering us. We pray for our enemies, for those around us intent on creating mayhem and stirring up trouble. We pray for those in society, in our communities, who seem unable to understand or accept that their behaviour is hurting their fellow neighbours and friends. We pray for our governmental leaders, that God’s will would prevail in their lives and in their political acts. And we allow God to deal with the people, the nations, as we gaze forward to the new Kingdom, that’s coming, that’s just over the horizon.