Psalm 64 - God will shoot his arrow at them

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To the leader. A Psalm of David.
1) Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint;
preserve my life from the dread enemy.
2) Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked,
from the scheming of evildoers,
3) who whet their tongues like swords,
who aim bitter words like arrows,
4) shooting from ambush at the blameless;
they shoot suddenly and without fear.
5) They hold fast to their evil purpose;
they talk of laying snares secretly,
thinking, “Who can see us?
6) Who can search out our crimes?
We have thought out a cunningly conceived plot.”
For the human heart and mind are deep.

7) But God will shoot his arrow at them;
they will be wounded suddenly.
8) Because of their tongue he will bring them to ruin;

all who see them will shake with horror.
9) Then everyone will fear;
they will tell what God has brought about,
and ponder what he has done.

10) Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord
and take refuge in him.
Let all the upright in heart glory.
Psalm 64 (NRSV*)
Not included in the Revised Common Lectionary.

I don't often pay much attention to the "titles" to Psalms found in many Bibles. But "Prayer for Protection from Enemies" seems pretty much on target. Many people do use the Book of Psalms as a spiritual pharmacy, with certain psalms prescribed for specific problems or conditions.

There is no one on this earth who does not have the experience of being pursued, of being attacked.

Enemies are real in our experience. We may experience disease and disaster as personal enemies. It might be a competitor or a personal rivalry. Bitter words and sharp tongues divide communities, families, and friendships. There are evil schemes to divide to take our money and leave us with unaffordable mortgages and damaged neighborhoods, which incite us to hate and distrust our neighbors. In the space where I work, some people have enemies with guns actively hunting them to settle a score. More often, the enemy is an oppressive system which works to disadvantage some, and divide one from another.

This psalm asks for two related things. "Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked" - keep me from harm. And smash the wicked schemes which are bringing us to ruin.

The wicked aim bitter words like arrows, and deploy their schemes like hidden snares, ambushing the innocent. Please God - shoot your arrow at them! Hobble their steps; stop them in their tracks!. Reveal their plans and expose their crimes. Hear me! Keep me from their evil schemes. Stop their lying. End their wicked schemes!

And let people see what you are doing! Make it plain that evil leads only to destruction. And let all see that God protects her people.

Let all the upright in heart glory at your wonderful, saving action.

Unattributed, Archer. Public domain (CC BY 1.0).
* New Revised Standard Version Bible (NRSV), copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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