One of the psalms appointed for this evening was Psalm 139. This is the one that talks about how we cannot escape God’s presence, and that we are fully known by him who made us marvelously. There is no possibility of slipping through the cracks, being forgotten or abandoned, not even the tiniest moment in which he is not fully with us.
Then there’s a brief section in which the psalmist asks God to slay the wicked, and proclaims how much and how perfectly he hates the enemies of God.
And then — then is this:
Search me out, O God, and know my heart;
Try me and know my restless thoughts.
Look well whether there be any wickedness in me
And lead me in the way that is everlasting.
In the Old and New Testaments there are stories of those struck down for various offenses against God, from offering strange fire or getting bored with manna or lying about how much one donated to the church… and yet here the situation looks different.
Here it looks as though God is most gentle and forbearing, perhaps even smiling compassionately at the irony, at the psalmist’s blindness to the wickedness of hatred, even so-called righteous hatred, and at his ignorance of God’s plans for his enemies — plans to invite them into the kingdom.
Dear Jesus, quite frankly, I wish those other stories weren’t even in the Bible. I’m not really sure what to do with them. It is hard to be certain that you are with me, and for me, as this psalmist describes, and that I am in no danger of being struck down like those others, who seem no more wicked than I am. As long as it is possible for you to strike anyone down, it is easy for me to fear the same danger, even at the foot of the cross. Teach me your ways, show me your paths.