Lately, my words have been hurting someone I deeply love. My temptation is to be self-righteous, self-justifying and defensive, but I hate that tendency as much as I hate being hurtful, however unintentionally.
I want to come easily and without self-aggrandizing explanation to the notion that I am wrong (see previous post). The details don’t matter — if I am wounding someone I am, in some way, wrong. Insensitive. Not listening. Putting myself above. Defending myself when I ought to be defending them. Shrinking the acceptable space instead of expanding it. I am not loving well.
I’ve spent a lot of waking hours — even the ones I should be sleeping — praying about all this, and have come back over and over again to my Psalm 7 poem. I wrote this in the spring of 2011, but it is as true today as then.
I cannot wait to be rid of this body of sin.
Superscript: In Psalm 7 David represents the typical worldview of his day, namely that he is experiencing persecution as a direct result of his sin, that God is inflicting him with dire circumstances to force his repentance. But David emphatically rejects this as the case, deciding instead that his enemies are unjust in their assault and that God will vindicate him.
This turnaround should give us pause to observe that David has just rewritten the “rules” that governed his theology. God is supposed to be like this, he says at the beginning, but then as his poem takes shape he discovers to the contrary that God’s dealings with him are less punitive and more faithful than he first supposes.
It only took one reading of this psalm for me to conclude that I was fully unlike David; whereas he was innocent, I was guilty through and through. God unflinchingly directs my attention to the breadth and depth of so many ways I fall short of His standard every day; my sin is ever before me. But God is also more than willing to painstakingly unmake me, beginning ever again to create in me a pure heart. It is the greatest hope of my life.
If I have done this
If I have taken what is not mine
If I have spoken what should be left unsaid
or been silent when words were required
If I have played the part
If I have played pretend
If I have dug my own well
or forced new wine into old wineskins
If I have whitewashed my own tomb
If I have forgiven my own sin
If I have been deaf to Nathan and Shimei
or the donkey, even
Then Hound of Heaven
Rend me limb from limb
Tear flesh from bone
Leave no sinew or tendon whole
Trample my life to the ground and
make me sleep in the dust.
Then, El ‘Elyon, from the dust I will
sing praise, finally, with a pure heart.