day 3 – put a psalm in my heart

Today’s reading is Psalm 9-11. Read Ps. 9-10 this morning and Ps. 11 tonight.

Morning: Psalm 9-10. As arranged in our Bible, we see Ps. 9 and Ps. 10 as two distinct psalms; however, they were almost certainly one psalm originally. In many ancient manuscripts they appear as one psalm. Ps. 10 doesn’t have a heading. They address the same subject, but the former anticipates the latter. And taken together, they form an acrostic (generally every other verse starting with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet). Read them as one today.

It can be exceedingly difficult for many of us today to hear/read portions of the Psalms, as portions of Ps. 9-10 illustrate well. For here is a call for God to fully and finally judge those who do evil here and now (e.g. – 9.19-20; 10.15). Now it is one thing to believe and declare that God is, and will, judge, but it is another thing altogether to call on God to do just that. For those of us living on this side of the cosmic-size billboard of Christ on the cross praying for God his/our Father to forgive those who were killing him, this can be an exceedingly hard thing to hear! We may ask ourselves, “What is this doing in our Bible?” or “Is this the way God wants me to pray today as a Christian?”

While this subject (i.e. – the imprecatory psalms) can’t be dismissed quickly or solved simply, it helps to keep two things in mind. First, many of us have not been in situations such as those in which some of the psalmists stood. As we read such psalms, we do well to bring to mind people who suffer far worse things in life than we have ever experienced. For example, imagine yourself as a person on the run from evil authorities, as a prisoner in some place like Auschwitz, or as a starved peasant watching your family and friends, generation after generation, suffer unspeakable and senseless cruelty. How would you pray? Don’t answer too quickly!

Second, that such words are recorded in Scripture doesn’t necessarily mean we’re to imitate them or adopt them as our own. They are a part of the record because they candidly show us just how transparent some people who sought God dared to be with him in prayer. They dared to say aloud and write down even their most difficult feelings and darkest thoughts. They refused to pray platitudes while wrestling with ponderous problems in their heart, rather, they determined to be totally honest to God. Such candor is certainly worthy of our imitation, even if the content of such candor can be open to question.

Evening: Psalm 11. There are several psalms like Psalm 11 scattered across the book of Psalms (cf. Ps. 11,16,23,27,62,63,91,108,121, 125,131) but, Ps. 11 is the first of this genre: a psalm of trust. What wonderful words to carry with us throughout every day:

“… the upright will see his face!” (11.7)

May such words encourage us, as well as inspire and motivate us, to ever place ourselves in our Father’s hands as his content and confident servants. Amen.

Here’s a Psalm 9-11 to today’s reading.