Monday of 4 Lent

The Lord’s Victory over the Wicked – Psalm 129

“The Lord is righteous; he has cut the cords of the wicked.”

Psalm 129:4

Take a moment and read Psalm 129. 

In the movie “Glory,” about the first all-African-American regiment in the United States Army during the Civil War, there is a scene where a former slave is subjected to punishment by whipping.  Private Trip, played by Denzel Washington, is stripped of his coat and shirt, and as he drops his shirt we can see the numerous welts across his back from previous whippings.  They look like long furrows in a plowed field.  This would not have been an unfamiliar sight to the exiles having made the journey to Jerusalem.  Many of the Jews who had been taken captive to Babylon were made slaves of their captors, and many were subjected to harsh treatment.  As the Psalmist says in Psalm 129:3, “The plowers plowed upon my back; they made long their furrows.”  Their backs may have looked like Private Trip’s.

We have entered the New Jerusalem, but many of us are carrying scars from our time in captivity to the flesh, the world, and the devil.  However, like the Psalmist affirms, though we may be carrying the scars inflicted by the wicked, “yet they have not prevailed against us.”  These past afflictions hold no power over us.  And those who inflicted harm on us in the past cannot harm us again if we stay firmly rooted in the Lord.  For, “the Lord is righteous; He has cut the cords of the wicked.”

As we shall see in tomorrow’s meditation, this Psalmist is both hurt and angry.  He lashes out with curses upon those who brought about this woe.  That is not an uncommon practice in the Old Testament, and sadly, as we saw in the meditation on Tuesday of 2 Lent, it is something that all of us are tempted to do ourselves.  But we have been born again into a new identity in Christ Jesus.  We have come into the New Jerusalem through the body and shed blood of Jesus—a body that was whipped, and spit upon, crowned with thorns, nailed to a cross, and pierced with a sword.  And as Jesus hung from that cross, did He curse those who abused Him?  No.  He prayed for them.  This is a challenge for us.  

The first part of this psalm is a hymn of trust.  It is an affirmation that God has protected us, and will continue to be with us.  We can put our trust in Him.  This deliverance at the hands of the Lord from persecution is a sign of the Lord’s favor.  Psalm 41:11 says, “I know that you are pleased with me, for my enemy does not triumph over me.”  As we begin to make our home in Christ Jesus, in His New Jerusalem, we have full assurance that if we abide in Him, His favor will rest upon us and the enemy will never triumph over us.  “The Lord is righteous; he has cut the cords of the wicked.”  Let us stand firm in that faith, confident that the Lord will show us His favor.

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