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psalm xviii (a) – violent God

How comfortable are you with God’s anger? Likely, not very. Psalms like these are more relatable in times of serious civil unrest, like in the time of David. If our country were being bombed and attacked, under constant threat by enemy powers, we would be more comfortable with God’s anger. In our current situation, God’s anger can seem…superfluous. Immature. Barbaric. Unnecessary. Well, I invite you to join me in worshiping our violent God.

Because the powers God wages war on are violent. The devil sends his tendrils out towards all hearts, hoping to draw them in with sweet seduction to the place of death. Like a siren, he sings sweet melodies that bring men and women to shipwreck themselves and lose themselves. The form that takes is different in 21st century Australia, but it is the same actor at work. It is a secret, cunning violence, yet a violence all the same.

And our God, like a great fire-breathing dragon descended on Satan at the resurrection. Our slavers looked up to see His fury against them, pouring out molten wrath upon them. A consuming fire that filled every cunning hiding place, leaving Satan in desolation, defeated. Plucked with love from the scorched earth is Christ and His Church, leaving Satan and his kin to waste away in a barren wasteland. The forces of evil that so seek our damnation crushed and burned in the fire of God’s wrath.

This is our God, who destroys the destroyer. Who does violence to the author of evil. We do not yet know the weight of sin, when God’s violent hatred for it is not understood. We do not know just how long and vile the devil’s tendrils are, how pure and lovely God’s creation would be without them.

When we abhor God’s anger against sin, we embrace the siren’s song that leads us to the God of our imagination, Satan. The song that calls us to take a measured, reasonable, nuanced, modern Western perspective of sin. To sin is to invite the desolation of God, as this Psalm shows us.

Love the true God, who has saved you by the grace of Christ from His all-consuming fire.

 

I love you, Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock,
my fortress, and my deliverer,
my God, my rock where I seek refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation,
my stronghold.
I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and I was saved from my enemies.

The ropes of death were wrapped around
me;
the torrents of destruction terrified me.
The ropes of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me.
I called to the Lord in my distress,
and I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
and my cry to him reached his ears.

Then the earth shook and quaked;
the foundations of the mountains trembled;
they shook because he burned with anger.
Smoke rose from his nostrils,
and consuming fire came from his mouth;
coals were set ablaze by it.
He bent the heavens and came down,
total darkness beneath his feet.
He rode on a cherub and flew,
soaring on the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his hiding place,
dark storm clouds his canopy around him.
From the radiance of his presence,
his clouds swept onward with hail and blazing coals.
The Lord thundered from heaven;
the Most High made his voice heard.
He shot his arrows and scattered them;
he hurled lightning bolts and routed them.
The depths of the sea became visible,
the foundations of the world were exposed,
at your rebuke, Lord,
at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.

He reached down from on high
and took hold of me;
he pulled me out of deep water.
He rescued me from my powerful enemy
and from those who hated me,
for they were too strong for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out to a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.

The Lord rewarded me
according to my righteousness;
he repaid me
according to the cleanness of my hands.
For I have kept the ways of the Lord
and have not turned from my God to wickedness.
Indeed, I let all his ordinances guide me
and have not disregarded his statutes.
I was blameless toward him
and kept myself from my iniquity.
So the Lord repaid me
according to my righteousness,
according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

psalm xviii:1-24 (csb)

<— psalm xvii psalm xviii (b) —>


psalm xvii – just and sinner

  • In black is a portion of our Psalm, which Christ could pray earnestly on His own merit. It is also what we can pray joyfully by our union with Him.
  • In red is my addition, that helps us read this Psalm in light of this Gospel.

Lord, hear a just cause;
from your child in Christ
Pay attention to my cry;
and I know you will
listen to my prayer
for I pray to you as Your Son prays to you
Let my vindication come from you,
for no one but your Son makes me innocent
for You see what is right
that is, you see Christ and not my sin


You have tested my heart
and I have been found lacking
You have examined me at night
when I think I am free to get away with evil
You have tried me and found nothing evil;
as I am pure in your sight by grace through faith in Christ


I have determined that my mouth will not sin concerning what people do
and yet it does often
by the words from your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent
and yet never as pure as your Son has


My steps are on your paths
by the grace of Christ
my feet have not slipped
not by my power, for I stand on the rock of Christ



We pray the Psalms of David as sinners.
We pray the Psalms of David as members of Christ. We pray as simul iustus et peccator, “simultaneously just and sinner.”
We pray as both righteous and sinner, knowing our righteousness flows from Christ while our sin still bubbles up in defiance against our inevitable transformation into the image of Christ (rom 8:29).

Lord, hear a just cause;
pay attention to my cry;
listen to my prayer—
from lips free of deceit.
Let my vindication come from you,
for you see what is right.
You have tested my heart;
you have examined me at night.
You have tried me and found nothing evil;
I have determined that my mouth will not sin
Concerning what people do:
by the words from your lips
I have avoided the ways of the violent.
My steps are on your paths;
my feet have not slipped.

I call on you, God,
because you will answer me;
listen closely to me; hear what I say.
Display the wonders of your faithful love,
Savior of all who seek refuge
from those who rebel against your right hand.
Protect me as the pupil of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings
from the wicked who treat me violently,
my deadly enemies who surround me.

They are uncaring;
their mouths speak arrogantly.
They advance against me; now they surround me.
They are determined
to throw me to the ground.
They are like a lion eager to tear,
like a young lion lurking in ambush.

Rise up, Lord!
Confront him; bring him down.
With your sword, save me from the wicked.
With your hand, Lord, save me from men,
from men of the world
whose portion is in this life:
You fill their bellies with what you have in store;
their sons are satisfied,
and they leave their surplus to their children.

But I will see your face in righteousness;
when I awake, I will be satisfied with your presence.

psalm xvii (csb)

<— psalm xvi psalm xviii (a) —>


psalm xvi – unshakeable

What does it mean to not be shaken? We can look to Christ on the cross to see. He was indeed physically shaken as he was whipped, beaten and pierced. His whole body shook and recoiled from the pain, so in no sense was he unshakeable in his physical body. Those who find God only in His gracious healing should take note of this. If ‘being like Jesus’ is the aim, then surely enduring pain and hardship is par for the course rather than a sign of God’s absence.

In fact, Jesus was unshakeable in a different way. He was so enamored by His love for God and us that He could endure whatever struck His physical body. At any point he could free Himself of the pain of the cross, as would be His right as God yet He remained sturdy in His resolve. His outward man could be shaken by wounds and abuse, but His inward man was unshakeable. The will of the Father was all His inward man desired to fulfill, despite the protests of His outward man.

To be guided by the Lord is to be like Christ on the cross, who saw the goodness of God’s will more desirous than to be free of the pain of life. It is to suffer the slings and arrows of fortune in the outward man and retreat into the solace of the inward man. Christ did this as perfectly as a human could, and we aspire to be like Him in this way as well as in any other.

This does not mean to be unemotional or unfeeling. Christ wasn’t, as he called out from the cross for the forgiveness of His executioners (luk 23:34). It means simply to desire solace only in God and in no created thing. It is to be counseled so much by His Word that He drowns out the counsel of both the devil and your sinful heart. It is to draw on the perfect will of the Father that Jesus drew from on the cross.

Meditation: How sinful is your heart, that you worry and believe your own counsel? That God will cast you aside and leave you alone surrounded by wolves? Acknowledge your anxieties and fears, as well as your hopes and aspirations. Bring them to God, all of them, and see them for what they are. They are things that threaten to shake you, if you give them your heart. They are a poor foundation, if they are required for you to be content and pleased with God. They are lesser things, because they are a product of your own weakness or desire. They are your will. Embrace the greater thing, God’s counsel, which you find in His Word. His will. Each time you do that, by the operation of God’s Holy Spirit, you will be trained more and more to be unshakeable in the same way as Christ.

Protect me, God, for I take refuge in you.
I said to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have nothing good besides you.”

As for the holy people who are in the land,
they are the noble ones.
All my delight is in them.
The sorrows of those who take another god
for themselves will multiply;
I will not pour out their drink offerings of blood,
and I will not speak their names with my lips.

Lord, you are my portion
and my cup of blessing;
you hold my future.
The boundary lines have fallen for me
in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I will bless the Lord who counsels me—
even at night when my thoughts trouble me.
I always let the Lord guide me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad
and my whole being rejoices;
my body also rests securely.
For you will not abandon me to Sheol;
you will not allow your faithful one to see decay.
You reveal the path of life to me;
in your presence is abundant joy;
at your right hand are eternal pleasures.

psalm xvi (csb)

<— psalm xv psalm xvii —>


psalm xv – none but Christ belongs

Lord, who can dwell in your tent?
None but Christ.
Who lives blamelessly?
None but Christ.
Who does not lie?
None but Christ.
Who does not harm?
None but Christ.

Who keeps God’s word whatever the cost, unbribable and unshakeable?
None but Christ.

Well, and you. Eventually. You will mirror Him and perfectly reflect His goodness. That is your future guaranteed by your brother Christ, from whom perfection flows into you, sanctifying the fallen humanity in you, restoring the Image of Christ in you. Yet not just a future, but also your present.

You. Weak, failing person. You currently dwell in the Lord’s tent by faith in Christ. You are fully in. Your relationship with God right now is a shared sonship with Christ. You are a participant in the life of the Trinity, though not God. A son like the Son.

Meditation: You are in the tent in Christ. You belong there yet you don’t. It does not yet feel like home to be with God. It feels as if you are a visitor in the tent, because this tent is designed for those far better than you. Your life as a Christian is learning to be at home in the tent despite the fact that you don’t seem to belong. Whether you belong is God’s decision, not yours. And He has said you do. Confess to God the worries of the day and reflect on them in light of this truth. You belong in the tent because Christ is righteous. You belong with God in spite of everything about you. None but Christ deserves to dwell with God. None but those in Christ do. And those who do dwell there in Christ, dwell there fully as residents and not visitors. 

Lord, who can dwell in your tent?
Who can live on your holy mountain?

The one who lives blamelessly, practices righteousness,
and acknowledges the truth in his heart—
who does not slander with his tongue,
who does not harm his friend
or discredit his neighbor,
who despises the one rejected by the Lord
but honors those who fear the Lord,
who keeps his word whatever the cost,
who does not lend his silver at interest
or take a bribe against the innocent—
the one who does these things will
never be shaken.

psalm xv (csb)

<— psalm xiv psalm xvi —>


psalm xiv – the bulb and the sun

Perhaps the least believable thing in the Bible is what this Psalm says: there is no one who does good. This runs contrary to all our experience as we live among others whose actions we judge daily as good or bad, right or wrong. Even in moral grey areas, there is still white among the black. Good is mixed in to all people. This is quite true. There is a kind of earthly good, a dim showing of the Divine Light of God’s image that remains in fallen mankind. Yet it would be foolish to see the dimness as the light. 

When humans sit in low-lit room with a dim bulb, God does something with their eyes. Their pupils adapt and begin to adjust to what little light there is and take hold of it. That dimness offers far more sight than complete darkness ever could, and that dim light becomes the guide. Yet then the window is opened to allow the sunlight to pour in and envelop the observer. The dim light is no longer perceptible in the brightness of the day, as the Sun outmatches it immeasurably. If someone asked, “Why is the room so bright?” you would not answer, “because of this dim bulb!” It is forgotten in the sun.

The dim light is what we see in ourselves and our neighbours. The sun is Christ. When we see Christ as He is (1 Jn 3:2), the dim light obscured by our human failings will be imperceptible and we will see that the only pure and true Good is God’s. Exposure to God’s Word over time is to have the window to True Light creaked open, to be fully opened at the End.

Those who are in Christ often find themselves in the presence of the Light yet paradoxically still look to the dim bulb for wisdom. God is patient with us, and guides us towards the window by His Spirit in His Word. You are adopted in Christ, be led to the window by Him all your life.

The fool says in his heart, “There’s no God.”
They are corrupt; they do vile deeds.
There is no one who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven on the human race
to see if there is one who is wise,
one who seeks God.
All have turned away;
all alike have become corrupt.
There is no one who does good,
not even one.

Will evildoers never understand?
They consume my people as they consume bread;
they do not call on the Lord.

Then they will be filled with dread,
for God is with those who are righteous.
You sinners frustrate the plans of the oppressed,
but the Lord is his refuge.

Oh, that Israel’s deliverance would come from Zion!
When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people,
let Jacob rejoice, let Israel be glad.

psalm xiv (csb)

<— psalm xiii psalm xv —>


psalm xiii – emotional sincerity

For whatever reason, it can be hard to be sincere with God. If you are angry with Him or feel He is letting you down, the temptation is to squash those feelings down. They’re evil thoughts, after all. What right do you have to demand anything? I can understand that.

Yet that is not David’s way. He takes his emotions to God, raw and unfiltered as they are. He feels forgotten, expended, anxious and trapped. He is sincere with God. He does not try to manage those emotions before he prays. He recognises that God is the source of all healing, even the healing of the disappointment he feels towards God Himself.

This emotional sincerity is deceptively difficult, even in private prayer. Often we can be afraid to feel unsatisfied, as if we’re accusing God of wrongdoing, and shove it down by force of will. We pray for what we’re supposed to if we were a good Christian. Yet God is the healer of that unsatisfaction, not you, and it’s Him you need to take it to. Don’t be afraid to pray badly boldly, because God is your forgiving Father and not a harsh teacher grading you on your prayer.

And note that this does something. It frees you to trust. When you lock up your emotion away from God, you deny that He is trustworthy enough to handle it. When you give Him all, you have nothing left to hide, and can recognise His ability and your inability so much clearer.

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long will I store up anxious concerns within me,
agony in my mind every day?
How long will my enemy dominate me?

Consider me and answer, Lord my God.
Restore brightness to my eyes;
otherwise, I will sleep in death.
My enemy will say, “I have triumphed over him,”
and my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.

But I have trusted in your faithful love;
my heart will rejoice in your deliverance.
I will sing to the Lord
because he has treated me generously.

psalm xiii (csb)

<— psalm xii psalm xiv —>


psalm xii – the jeweler

Refining is the process of removing impurities so only the desired substance is left. All manner of foreign particles can limit the effectiveness of a material. In the case of silver, heat was the refining instrument, as it burned away all except the valuable metal.

God’s words are like this, completely pure of all imperfection. All other words are not like this, and in them reside more or less impurities. All words can then be divided into two categories: pure (God’s) and impure (ours). This isn’t to say all we say is wrong, just incomplete. At best it is purified a couple of times in a furnace, but never seven. No one speaks from God’s all-encompassing, all-wise perspective.

Where does that leave us? In a state of unknowing except by God’s Word. Everything is transitory and incomplete except God’s Word, which is complete. God’s Word is the only way by which we know reality without impurity.

If a jeweler frequently deals with pure silver, then he can quickly spot a less-pure product when it is brought in to his shop. However, if his exposure to pure silver is infrequent and minimal, less-pure items will evade his detection. It’s only later when he sees pure silver again that he realises he’s been duped again. Frequent exposure to the pure is the jeweler’s wisest option to avoid monetary loss, and our wisest option to avoid spiritual loss. 

Help, Lord, for no faithful one remains;
the loyal have disappeared from the human race.
They lie to one another;
they speak with flattering lips and deceptive hearts.
May the Lord cut off all flattering lips
and the tongue that speaks boastfully.
They say, “Through our tongues we have power;
our lips are our own—who can be our master?”

“Because of the devastation of the needy
and the groaning of the poor,
I will now rise up,” says the Lord.
“I will provide safety for the one who longs for it.”

The words of the Lord are pure words,
like silver refined in an earthen furnace,
purified seven times.
You, Lord, will guard us;
you will protect us from this generation forever.

The wicked prowl all around,
and what is worthless is exalted by the
human race.

psalm xii (csb)

<— psalm xi psalm xiii —>


psalm xi – the limits of reason

David’s advisor tells him exactly the right thing to do. People want to kill him, so he should flee to refuge. He should escape, then he would be safe. It’s only rational.

David’s advisor says, “take refuge in the resources you have available.” David says, “all my resources are nothing. God is all.” His advisor rests on a faulty reason, that the foundation of the righteous is God alone, so it cannot be destroyed.

I’m not saying you should go outside with and walk in front of cars to see if God protects you. You, Christian, have not been promised physical safety like David was. So how do we take refuge in God alone?

Know that God supersedes the rational mind. Your rational mind is always active. You use it every day to collect data to live and avoid disaster, and that is a God given gift. But God is not bound by the data you collect. A pretty benign example would be giving your wealth to the church and charity. You receive nothing in return. There is no accrued stake in the church purchased or influence won amongst the elders (hopefully). Giving is a net loss for you financially. It may even impede your ability to live better. Yet it is God’s will, and so those thoughts must be done away with. There is something greater Unseen that supersedes the seen. That’s what David understood.

God does not call us to live irrationally, but submit our reason to Him, knowing it would be ruin to not. To be convicted by God is to take a plunge into the unknown where data has lost its usefulness. It’s to step onto the foundation of God and off the flimsy, self-constructed foundation. It’s when the enemy comes that we are given David’s choice. The advisor of our mind will give us tantalising advice, offering all kinds of escapes. Our role is to be taught by God in His Word to recognise when we must stand firm in the darkness because we know that in that darkness we rest on a sure foundation. Better with God in the dark than ourselves in the light.

I have taken refuge in the Lord.
How can you say to me,
“Escape to the mountains like a bird!
For look, the wicked string bows;
they put their arrows on bowstrings
to shoot from the shadows at the upright in heart.
When the foundations are destroyed,
what can the righteous do?”

The Lord is in his holy temple;
the Lord—his throne is in heaven.
His eyes watch;
his gaze examines everyone.
The Lord examines the righteous,
but he hates the wicked
and those who love violence.

Let him rain burning coals
and sulfur on the wicked;
let a scorching wind be the portion in their cup.
For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds.
The upright will see his face.

psalm xi (csb)

<— psalm x psalm xii —>


psalm x – the eternal gaze

This wicked one is wiser than he seems. First, he knows he’s in the wrong. He doesn’t make excuses, ironically. Of his many faults, hypocrisy is not one of them. Why is that? Well, he has one guiding principle that lets him act however he wants without guilt or fear: God’s gaze is not on him.

Without God’s gaze, there is no accountability. There is complete security in your own decisions and acts, as long as you’re smart enough to avoid earthly consequences. As long as God is not paying attention, I can take for myself what I wish. I am a god with my own domain, as long as the big God does not see me.

The wicked one needs so badly for it to be true that God is not watching, or else he would see something horrifying. Every thing he had ever done would be scrutinised. All would be seen. God’s eye would track every movement, keeping a detailed record of every malicious act and thought. The wicked one couldn’t remain wicked, if he knew God’s gaze was on him. It would be too painful to seek his own desires, if he saw in each of his victims God’s eye staring at him.

Thank God I am not wicked if I am in Christ. I know that when God gazes at me, He gazes through Christ, so I am coloured by His righteousness bought on the cross. Christ converts the heat of righteous judgement into the love of a Father.

Yet the issue of the wicked one still remains. Each time we sin, it is because our self-talk matches that of the wicked one. We’ll never say, “God has forgotten; he hides his face and will never see.” But we will live dull to the fact that God’s gaze never leaves us, and act as if we are little gods without the gaze of the big God. When we do this, we become a little more like the wicked one who must forget God to be able to live with himself.

The Christian’s aim is to meet God’s gaze. To meet God’s gaze is to do the opposite of the wicked one. It is to acknowledge fully one’s status before the Creator. It is not so much teaching oneself to not sin. It is teaching oneself that no self-satisfaction is worth averting your eyes from that loving gaze. It is to find no consolation outside that gaze.


Meditation: What is it like to know that God’s eye is always fixed on you? After reflecting on that, I expect you’ll feel one of two things. Love or shame. It’s a wonderful thing to feel loved and to know your Father never looks away. It’s also a wonderful thing to be shamed, because then you can know that Christ is your righteousness and that shame is no longer yours. You are objectively no longer entitled to shame, even if you subjectively still feel it. Pray that you will see that objective reality and trust in God’s promise of your innocence in Christ (Rom 8:1), not your own opinion which is prone to Satan’s misdirection.

Lord, why do you stand so far away?
Why do you hide in times of trouble?
In arrogance the wicked relentlessly pursue their victims;
let them be caught in the schemes they have devised.

For the wicked one boasts about his own cravings;
the one who is greedy curses and despises the Lord.
In all his scheming,
the wicked person arrogantly thinks,
“There’s no accountability,
since there’s no God.”
His ways are always secure;
your lofty judgments have no effect on him;
he scoffs at all his adversaries.
He says to himself, “I will never be moved—
from generation to generation I will be without calamity.”
Cursing, deceit, and violence fill his mouth;
trouble and malice are under his tongue.
He waits in ambush near settlements;
he kills the innocent in secret places.
His eyes are on the lookout for the helpless;
he lurks in secret like a lion in a thicket.
He lurks in order to seize a victim;
he seizes a victim and drags him in his net.
So he is oppressed and beaten down;
helpless people fall because of the wicked one’s strength.
He says to himself, “God has forgotten;
he hides his face and will never see.”

Rise up, Lord God! Lift up your hand.
Do not forget the oppressed.
Why has the wicked person despised God?
He says to himself, “You will not demand an account.”
But you yourself have seen trouble and grief,
observing it in order to take the matter into your hands.
The helpless one entrusts himself to you;
you are a helper of the fatherless.
Break the arm of the wicked, evil person,
until you look for his wickedness,
but it can’t be found.

The Lord is King forever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
Lord, you have heard the desire of the humble;
you will strengthen their hearts.
You will listen carefully,
doing justice for the fatherless and the oppressed

so that mere humans from the earth may terrify them no more.

psalm x (csb)

<— psalm ix psalm xi —>


psalm ix – the king with two faces

nb: thought I’d go a bit of a different route today with this Psalm. A story on God’s unity in love and wrath.

There was once a little princess from Castle Spotless who spent most of her time in the keep while the King was away fighting battles. Whenever the King returned through the frosted gates, the town would rejoice with him, congratulating him for once again keeping the goblin horde at bay.

The little princess would always sit right beside her father at the night’s feast, nestled into the warmth of his cloak and hearing his soldiers share war stories. She didn’t listen too hard, of course, because they were quite scary. She couldn’t quite believe it when the people around her spoke about her father’s vicious sword strokes, flaming arrows and bloodied shield. Her father would hug her goodnight and read her stories. He’d kiss her on the forehead. He certainly wasn’t ever violent or angry with her. All of these tales of bloodshed and anger simply didn’t fit. “They must be exaggerating,” she thought. “Father would never do something like that. They must be mistaken.” Never mind the dried blood on his sword or the gash on his leg.

Not a day later, early in the morning that the sun was still hidden, the sound of the castle horn reverberated through the stone walls. The princess had never thought today would come, but she knew as well as anyone else what that horn meant. An attack.

She waited. And waited. She knew from her lessons that another horn would sound when the goblins were defeated. Three blows. But it must have been ten minutes and she still heard the clashes of metal outside as strongly as she heard it at its beginning. Worried for her father, she plucked up all her courage and left her room. Turning the icy knob, she swung the door open to reveal the courtyard, or more accurately, the battlefield. The castle knights fought with all they had, Sir John had not even had enough time to put his armour on.

And in the midst of it all, she saw her father unlike she’d ever seen him before. His face was red, eyes wide, piercing his longsword into the heart of one of the goblins. He slashed and slashed, defeating any that dared enter within range of his gleaming sword. He was not the father who would kiss her goodnight and read her stories. He was scary.

The night persisted as long as the battle took. Finally the three horns came. The princess saw the servants came to help remove the goblin bodies. She also saw her father covered in sweat and mud, blood and grime. He smiled at her, like he always did. How could this be the same man? Yet then something happened.

She felt her body move before her mind, and she raced towards her father and leapt into his embrace. He was still warm. He had the same face, albeit his breathing was a little faster than normal. Her mind caught up to her feelings as she looked over his shoulder and caught a glimpse of a goblin corpse.

Those things would have taken her if they could. They wouldn’t respond to peace, her father had tried that long ago. They just kept pushing and pushing and pushing. What was her father to do? Hold out a handshake while his whole household was raided and those he loved burned? Her fear turned to an even greater love than she had before. It was not the King’s nature to be angry, but it was his nature to protect his daughter.

She now saw something deeper in her mind’s eye. She remembered that night, when she saw her father cutting down goblins left and right. This time she saw his face differently. It was love for her that drove his anger. It was love for her that powered each sword swing, not the joy of slaughter. When his love was turned to face the enemy, it burned them brightly, for they were met with the love that they despised. His hatred for the enemy was his love for his daughter, the two could not be separated. She saw the two faces of her father she knew: love and wrath. The face of love was turned towards her and the face of wrath towards the enemy. Each face converged into one and she saw both as two sides of the same coin. Her father was more complicated than she thought, but he was even better than she thought before.

I will thank the Lord with all my heart;
I will declare all your wondrous works.
I will rejoice and boast about you;
I will sing about your name, Most High.
When my enemies retreat,
they stumble and perish before you.
For you have upheld my just cause;
you are seated on your throne as a righteous judge.
You have rebuked the nations:
You have destroyed the wicked;
you have erased their name forever and ever.
The enemy has come to eternal ruin;
you have uprooted the cities,
and the very memory of them has perished.

But the Lord sits enthroned forever;
he has established his throne for judgment.
And he judges the world with righteousness;
he executes judgment on the nations with fairness.
The Lord is a refuge for the persecuted,
a refuge in times of trouble.
Those who know your name trust in you
because you have not abandoned
those who seek you, Lord.

Sing to the Lord, who dwells in Zion;
proclaim his deeds among the nations.
For the one who seeks an accounting
for bloodshed remembers them;
he does not forget the cry of the oppressed.

Be gracious to me, Lord;
consider my affliction at the hands of those who hate me.
Lift me up from the gates of death,
so that I may declare all your praises.
I will rejoice in your salvation
within the gates of Daughter Zion.

The nations have fallen into the pit they made;
their foot is caught in the net they have concealed.
The Lord has made himself known;
he has executed justice,
snaring the wicked
by the work of their hands. Higgaion.
Selah

The wicked will return to Sheol—
all the nations that forget God.
For the needy will not always be forgotten;
the hope of the oppressed will not perish forever.

Rise up, Lord! Do not let mere humans prevail;
let the nations be judged in your presence.
Put terror in them, Lord;
let the nations know they are only humans. Selah

psalm ix (csb)

<— psalm viii psalm x —>