The Daily Office: Day 12- Falsely Accused
Silence for 2-5 minutes:
If your mind wanders, silently pray a simple prayer again and again, such as, "I surrender to your love" or "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me" until the Holy Spirit gives you a sense of peace and focus.
O Lord my God, in you do I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers and deliver me, lest like a lion they tear my soul apart, rending it in pieces, with none to deliver.
O Lord my God, if I have done this, if there is wrong in my hands, if I have repaid my friend with evil or plundered my enemy without cause, let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it, and let him trample my life to the ground and lay my glory in the dust. Selah
Arise, O Lord, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake for me; you have appointed a judgment. Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered about you; over it return on high.
The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me. Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and may you establish the righteous— you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God! My shield is with God, who saves the upright in heart. God is a righteous judge, and a God who feels indignation every day.
If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts. Behold, the wicked man conceives evil and is pregnant with mischief and gives birth to lies. He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends.
I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.
Ray Donovan, the former Secretary of Labor under President Reagan, was indicted on corruption charges for working with a construction company with mob ties. The problem was that Donovan was innocent of all charges. At trial, he was exonerated without having to call a single witness. After his acquittal in 1987, Donovan famously said, "Which office do I go to to get my reputation back?"
In Psalm 7, David is navigating a smear campaign of his own. David's outrage and disbelief, vividly expressed in the Psalm are shared experiences of the falsely accused. Psalm 7 acts as a roadmap out of this cloud of trauma. Let's follow the scripture's guidance.
First of all, we see that David is quick to make God his only refuge. False accusations are like a hurricane that devastates the soul. David knows that God alone can help him sort through his complicated emotions and response. No-one else but God can handle our rage and hurt and minister peace and sanity during such times. The experiential "peace that passes all understanding" is our shelter in the storm.
Secondly, David is willing to examine himself to see if the allegations against him are true. He asks God to evaluate the charges and let his enemy triumph if the claims are valid. I find this step very necessary and clarifying. Without it, I lapse into self-righteousness and harsh judgmentalism.
Most importantly, David looks to God to be his only defense. Jesus told the disciples that he was sending them out on mission as sheep among wolves. The righteous often feel vulnerable and exposed in this world, but God has promised to protect us during this perilous journey called life.
As Christians, our hope is not the punishment of the person who is slandering us, but rather their forgiveness and reconciliation. Even as Christ has blessed us and forgiven us of many misdeeds, we extend the same grace to our accusers. We leave all questions of justice to the Lord, who alone can rightly judge.
Paul writes: Romans 12: 14, 17-21
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them….
17 Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." 20 To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
As in many of his prayers, David concludes Psalm 7 by praising the Lord. David has relinquished the entire agonizing episode into the hands of God. Praise is evidence of this painful surrender.
There may not be an office to get our reputation back, but our God is a refuge who will defend us and take care of us during the most unjust assaults. The Lord is faithful to protect us, and He alone is worthy to be praised. Christ's reputation remains untarnished.
Think of a time when you were falsely accused. How did you respond? Were you able to find solace in God and allow the Lord to defend you? Were you able to pray for your accusers and bless them? If not, ask the Lord to give you the grace to do it today.
Lord, when you were falsely accused, you remained silent. You allowed your Father to defend you, for you needed no other defense. Lord, help me to follow your example. Let your shed blood be my one defense against all accusations. In Jesus' name. Amen