“O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.” (Psalm 79:1)
I don’t mean to minimize the suffering of the Israelites, the Divine’s called and chose people, but what they suffered is common to many nations that have been invaded. These verses of the psalmist’s could be the lament of many, and I am sure in a paraphrased way have been. Now, granted, not all of them (other people and nations) may have been lamenting about their buildings of faith and worship. Other institutions that are important to a given society have suffered also. So even their hurt over the temple being desecrated and defiled is not a unique situation.
“They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the air for food, the flesh of your faithful to the wild animals of the earth. They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them.” (Verse 2 – 3)
As is so common in war, there is little thought and pity given to the casualties in a conflict. Living in this so called modern times, I have the advantage of hindsight in knowing that casualties on battle field are often left with no care, burial, or remembrance given. And it is not just on formal established battlefields either. Savagery in any armed conflict runs rampant.
“We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those around us.” (Verse 4)
I can’t help and remember, beloved reader, of the years that the state of Israel was struggling to establish itself. I was fairly young during those years, but I do remember vague reports of suffering, and the anguish that accompanied that struggle. It seems that Israel has, over and over, struggled to establish itself, and found itself the target and focus of hatred and violence. But, to be fair, Israel then and now had committed its far share of hatred and violence.
“How long, O LORD? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealous wrath burn like fire?” (Verse 5)
It is this verse that is the common cry for many people of faith and circles of faith. How long will they be subject to the seeming animosity and worse that is committed against them. How long will their God (however they define that deity) stand apart from them and not intervene on their behalf because of perceived (accurately or assumed) wrath.
“Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call on your name. For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation.” (Verses 6 – 7)
Here too is a common cry – get the ones who are making us suffer!
“Do not remember against us the iniquities of our ancestors; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and forgive our sins, for your name’s sake.” (Verses 8 – 9)
Petition and intercession. And just one step away from confession. Can it be said that any nation deserves such treatment? That is the question, beloved reader. Does any faith group deserve to be treated in such a way by its deity? When one is deep in a pit and destruction is rained down upon you, it is hard to know who is really at the top pelting you with suffering. And it is challenging at the time to consider that it might just be that your deity is not at the top causing the turmoil, but beside you trying to shelter you and console you. Something to think about. Shalom!