Saturday, August 8, 2009

Prayer and Politics


Reading Psalm 58: 1-11, I couldn't resist thinking about the character of some politicians in our nation. The writer seems fed up with irresponsible leadership. Psalm 58:1-2 encapsulates the theme of the song.
"Do you indeed decree what is right, you gods(rulers)?
Do you judge the children of man uprightly?
Sadly, the answer is no.

Political leaders are first and foremost servants. All decisions, private and public should reflect concern for constituents. Unfortunately, the writer sees leaders whose hearts and hands focus on devising wrongs and dealing out violence. Psalm 58:2

Psalm 58: 3-5 describes their character: deviancy and falsehood are their birth-inheritance; they carry a poison within, and are incorrigible like a deaf cobra that stops its ears. In other words, they are insensitive to those they serve.

Psalm 58:6-9, the writer appeals to God. Much of what's here is not literal but symbolic. Is it unchristian to pray this way for unjust political leaders? It's like praying for God to bankrupt those leaders and countries that protect sex-trafficking; who sell arms to other countries; who profit from the cocaine industry. If these rulers, so set in their ways and policies, refuse to side with mercy and compassion, what is wrong with asking God to bring them down?
Notice the five word pictures:
1. Water running off the surface of the ground, or they come to nothing Psalm 58:7
2. A discharged arrow which withers and falls to the ground Psalm 58:7
3. A slug that goes away melting, leaving only an empty shell Psalm 58:8
4. A pregnancy that issues in stillbirth Psalm 58:8
5. Before a pots feels heat from thorns set ablaze, God blows them away, Psalm 58:9

Finally, he holds out hope of vindication, Psalm 58:10-11. This is also pretty rough language and rattles our modern sensibilities. How do we pray these words? The answers aren't all clear, but we'll keep reading for more insight. One thing we do know, there is a God who judges the earth! Psalm 58: 11

Father, you are the only true and just ruler. All your thoughts toward us are good. Teach us how to engage responsibly in the politics of our day. Teach us how, as ordinary citizens, to hold elected officials accountable. We know that earthly governments are flawed, so while we work, we await the fullness of your government Isaiah 9:6-7. Come, Lord Jesus, come. Amen