April 13, 2018: That They May Seek Your NameJosh Moody
These kind of Psalms are hard for us to read, much less to interpret. We are not used to the idea of God’s judgment in any shape or form being expressed with confidence and certitude. And it is especially hard for us to read of this appeal for God to judge against the enemies of God’s people. Did not Jesus command us to love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us? Why then does this Psalm model a request that prays “Do to them as you did to Midian…O my God make them as whirling dust, like chaff before the wind” (verses 9, 13)?
Partly this is because in the Old Testament God’s people were a nation-state, and their association with the people of God as that nation-state gave them the power of the sword which in the New Testament is not given to the New Testament church. Partly it is because the Psalm assumes that, because of this Old Testament status as being part of God’s people, that those who opposed God’s people were opposing God (we certainly cannot always assume today that those who oppose us are thereby opposing God). Partly it is because the Psalms model for us an honesty with God regarding our feelings and troubles, and not always necessarily thereby teaching that such feelings are exemplary. There is a “Psalmnotherapy” that the Psalms show in the intimacy of the covenant relationship with God. Sometimes we do wish that our enemies were ground to dust; the Psalm shows us that we can express such feelings to God without thereby indicating that such feelings are what we should feel. We can work through those feelings in the covenant safety of our prayerful relationship with our loving God.
But there is also another element that is specific to this Psalm. The goal of this prayer is that “They may seek your name, O Lord…that they may know that you alone, whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth” (verses 16, 18). In other words, the Palmist is praying that God’s enemies would come to be his friends – that they would seek him and, if God wills, find him.
For sure, you can pray that about your enemies. Would you pray this morning that your enemies would turn to God, seek God, find God, know God!