For the director of music. To the tune of “Do Not Destroy.” Of David. A miktam. When Saul had sent men to watch David’s house in order to kill him.
1 Deliver me from my enemies, O God; be my fortress against those who are attacking me. 2 Deliver me from evildoers and save me from those who are after my blood.
3 See how they lie in wait for me! Fierce men conspire against me for no offense or sin of mine, Lord. 4 I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me. Arise to help me; look on my plight! 5 You, Lord God Almighty, you who are the God of Israel, rouse yourself to punish all the nations; show no mercy to wicked traitors.[c]
6 They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. 7 See what they spew from their mouths— the words from their lips are sharp as swords, and they think, “Who can hear us?”
Psalm 59 is a Psalm of lament when David was fleeing from Saul. It seems to perhaps relate to 1 Samuel 19. It is a song David uses later in his monarchy when he faces attacks from foreign nations. Verse seven is particularly relevant to us today as David feels the attack of the words of his enemies. Their words of hatred are literally “belched out” and are as painful as the sharpest swords. Beyond that, those who speak such words do not realize that God is listening, and God will judge.
We live in a day where many use social media to say things they would never say to someone face to face. We may believe that our tablets and cell phones provide some level of anonymity and cover, but we underestimate how hurtful our words can be. Political posts can be particularly harmful as we may assume that everyone who is a follower of Jesus must or should see things as we do. I assure you that they do not. As a pastor, I know of sincere believers who leave churches because someone states with zeal and conviction that a particular candidate is “God’s choice,” or that a candidate they may be voting for is particularly evil.
In this election year, there are those who know Jesus Christ who will vote for the Republican candidate for president and there those who will vote for the Democratic candidate and there are those who will vote for a third party candidate and there are those who will not vote. Each person is sincere, has the Holy Spirit, and is doing what they think is right. This should bring some humility to our outlook and should help us temper our words.
John Wesley states:
-October 6, 1774 I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them 1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy 2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against, and 3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.
This year, I commit myself to follow Wesley’s admonition and to repent when I stray. I choose my allegiance to Christ and to my brothers and sisters over any allegiance to a political candidate or party. After all, my real citizenship is in heaven and the King has an eternal term of office!
Make a commitment to honor others who view the world differently than you do. Peter proclaims that honoring other people who are not believers is a key component in witnessing and defending our faith. (1 Peter 3:15) If you use social media, refrain from posts that are not fact-checked, and are demeaning of others. Ask God to help you choose your words well.
O Lord, words seem to be thrown around without thought for the damage they may do. Forgive me for arrogance, self-righteousness and judgment of others with whom I disagree. Let my words be life-giving rather than like sharp swords that harm others. Amen