Evil for Good

“O God, whom I praise,
don’t stand silent and aloof
while the wicked slander me
and tell lies about me.
They surround me with hateful words
and fight against me for no reason.
I love them, but they try to destroy me with accusations
even as I am praying for them!
They repay evil for good,
and hatred for my love.”
Psalm 109:1-5. NLT

David is being slandered by people telling lies about him. And he appeals to his Heavenly Advocate for vindication. He appeals to God Himself, that He will get involved in the injustice David is experiencing. David feels particularly aggrieved because the people he loves, the people he prays for, are all paying back his goodness to them with a wicked and evil response. And much of the Psalm is devoted to a list of what the evil people are saying about him and what they would like to do to him. 

I’m sure we have all been in a place where we think or feel that people are saying negative things about us. Those whispers and sidelong glances apparently pointed towards us in the office, at a party, in the school playground or on a university campus (for those of us young enough to remember!). It’s human nature to amplify what might not really be a negative situation or a problem into a full blown disaster, with our thinking extrapolating into worries that people might want to murder us, or slander us at the very least. And before we know it we retreat into a corner, behind our front doors, anywhere, away from the potential or imagined abuse that we’re suffering, to a place where we anxiously dwell on the injustices of life. Was David suffering from paranoia, or was there a real problem with his friends and relatives, with those people he knew? Either way, it doesn’t matter, because the attack upon him was to him very real.

What about us? Do we suffer from paranoia, or are we too experiencing all sorts of unmerited abuse? We can take a lesson from David and his life. Having listed all the abuse being lined up against him, he finishes the Psalm with this: “May my accusers be clothed with disgrace; may their humiliation cover them like a cloak. But I will give repeated thanks to the Lord, praising him to everyone. For he stands beside the needy, ready to save them from those who condemn them“. That’s the place we need to find. In the end it doesn’t matter what others think about us. For me, God is enough. He has told me, and still tells me, that He loves me. The Passion translation of the Bible translates 1 John 3:1 as, “Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvellous love that he has lavished on us! He has called us and made us his very own beloved children.” Somehow, as we rest in our status as God’s children, it doesn’t matter much what others think of us. It’s what God thinks that matters. And He loves me.

Paranoia?

Those who hate me without reason
outnumber the hairs of my head;
many are my enemies without cause,
those who seek to destroy me.
I am forced to restore
what I did not steal.

But I pray to you, Lord,
in the time of your favour.
in your great love, O God,
answer me with your sure salvation.
Rescue me from the mire,
do not let me sink;
deliver me from those who hate me,
from the deep waters.

Psalm 69:4,13-14 NIVUK

Is David being paranoid here? Apparently, the average number of hairs on a person’s head is about 100,000. So did this many people really hate David? Were his thoughts being driven by his feelings of persecution and a lack of justice, or was he really in a very difficult place? Whatever the answer would be to this question, David always ending up being reminded of God and His love, salvation and deliverance. And he prayed. David was doing what we all do from time to time. Who has never wondered what other people are thinking about us? Who has never had thoughts that the whispering and quick glances in our direction are gossip about us? David was setting out his feelings, graphically describing what was going on inside of him. And the expression of the negatives were followed through by his arrival on God’s door step. Where he prayed and received the assurance that he was seeking. And in the process he was setting us an example to follow when we too feel a bit paranoid.