Today's Lectionary Text
Do not fret because of the wicked;
Trust in the Lord, and do good;
Commit your way to the Lord;
Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him;
Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.
Yet a little while, and the wicked will be no more;
The wicked plot against the righteous,
The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
Better is a little that the righteous person has
The Lord knows the days of the blameless,
But the wicked perish,
The wicked borrow, and do not pay back,
Our steps are made firm by the Lord,
I have been young, and now am old,
Depart from evil, and do good;
The righteous shall be kept safe forever,
The mouths of the righteous utter wisdom,
The wicked watch for the righteous,
Wait for the Lord, and keep to his way,
I have seen the wicked oppressing,
Mark the blameless, and behold the upright,
The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord;
The German language has some wonderful words. One is “schadenfreude,” pleasure derived by another person's misfortune. Today’s passage from Palms 37 begins, I think, with a sort of reverse schadenfreude. Rather than pleasure derived from an enemy’s misfortune, it speaks of misery from an enemy’s success.
In our hyper-partisan world, we seem to so often see each other as enemies. Major controversial decisions are treated like a zero-sum game where there must be a winner (hopefully our side), and loser (hopefully them).
You could take today’s reading as a justification for such a mindset with its talk in verse 9 of the wicked being “cut off” while the “righteous inherit the land.” But I think that’s missing the point. We are called to trust in God and to know that when we trust, we can have confidence in a hopeful future. “Do not fret,” the scripture says in verse 8, “it leads only to evil.”
In the coming days, as we witness a great deal of debate, as we are filled with anxious moments and thoughts or anger or fear, I hope we have the presence and courage to be patient and trust that God will indeed find a way.
Prayer for Reflection
Gracious God, bless us. Bless our friends. Bless especially our enemies.
Help us to remember that we are all your children. May we speak and act in the ways you call us to be. AMEN.
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