97 O how I love Your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies,
For they are ever mine [or with me].
99 I have more insight than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the aged,
Because I have observed Your precepts. [New American Standard Bible]
Yikes. Not sure if it’s the psalm or if it’s me. I have no problem with the first two verses, but the third and fourth are problematic for me. If I read them in historical context, I guess they are understandable. Read, however, from a 21st century point of view, these two verses provide justification for one of the biggest sources of discord in our current American society.
I’m struggling with how to finish this thought without pointing fingers, but I don’t have a clue how to do this. It is an understatement to claim that something is awry with our current political climate. We no longer have disagreements, we have hateful encampments against those who think differently from us. What is fueling this? Sadly, I cannot escape the fact that it is the same force that has fueled most of the bloodiest wars. It is the same force that has justified horrendous acts of cruelty against fellow humans. Nothing can bring out hate as well as unbending religious conviction. More often than not, it is a conviction based on the need to be right in order to secure God’s favor. With that noble purpose, all is fair.
Do you see my issue now with verses 99 and 100? They come right out of today’s headlines when it comes to fundamentalist Christianity. Science versus “facts presented in bible stories”… science must be wrong. Wisdom of the ages versus “how I read the bible”… the masses must be wrong. The result? Intolerance and hatred. Why hatred? Fear… I contend (and have for many years) that ALL evil can be traced to fear. In this case one side fears that their carefully constructed belief system may come crumbling down if allowed to be challenged while the other side fears that centuries of intellectual and social progress will be rolled back out of a growing willful ignorance.