“Shame”, Psalm 129 v5

“May all who hate Zion be turned back in shame.” (Psalms 129:5 NIV)

Shame

Israel had plenty of experience of the hatred of others. The Psalmist is not thinking of some fictional reconstruction of history. We may ask even today as to the fate of imperial Egypt which enslaved Israel—or the Philistines, Assyrians or Babylonians?

For a Christian one could add Rome, prominent atheists, the states that have burned Bibles, Communism, and all other enemies of people of the Christian faith. Being someone who hates God’s people is not a recommended position!

It is not possible to go through the Christian life without some undeserved hatred. If it happened to Jesus ….

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.” (John 15:18–20 NIV)

Prayer

The verbs in verses 5-8 could be taken as indicating this is a prayer by the Psalmist (what is being asked for), or a prophecy (what is being foreseen). Either way we may wonder about whether the expression of the Psalmist’s desires are legitimate in God’s sight.
The sentiments expressed by the Psalmist may be wrong. Consider these two passages,

“If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help him with it.” (Exodus 23:4–5 NIV)

“Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice,” Prov 24:17 NIV

However, the Psalmist is at least being authentic. He has convictions, and a righteous anger, even if he is not processing it healthily. We can admire the energy while not applauding the vindictiveness.

Are we being real with God in our prayers? Even if it means being in danger of over-stepping the mark? There is no point pretending with God. If you have a desire to wish ill on someone you might as well get it out in the open with God. He knows anyway. When your feelings (good or bad) are brought into the light they can be refined by God. God can handle whatever you are thinking or feeling – He is not going to be surprised. He has heard it all before and He knows how to help you with your situation.
God may well turn your enemies back in shame, but the reason we must pray about it is to make sure we do not develop bitterness of heart if God’s timing is not as we would like it.

Remember, Jesus prayed this prayer from the cross,

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

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