125 I am your servant. Give me wisdom
so I can understand your rules.
126 Lord, it is time for you to do something,
because people have disobeyed your teachings.
127 I love your commands
more than the purest gold.
128 I respect all your orders,
so I hate lying ways. [New Century Vision]
I cannot grab a toe-hold on today’s verses. But I cannot help but note the commonality between their core message and one of the principal German mindsets—a love for rules and disdain for those who those who don’t embrace them. This is not something new to me. This is my third trip to Germany. The first time I was here, I was blown away by the depth of this reality. Each subsequent trip has simply enforced my grasp of the depth to which this permeates their society. As an outsider looking in, I am amazed by how well this system works. As an outsider (in particular, as an American) looking in, I am also amazed by how much freedom (or the illusion thereof) the people are willing to yield. And this brings me back to the psalm… and to a question.
Human society seems to work best when we have law and order. The core of these laws have changed only slightly from Hammurabi’s code. The implementation and specifics have taken on wildly different forms across the globe and over time, but as social creatures, we need rules in order to function. The psalmist is asking God to finally step in and make things right. But when is this a good thing and when is it not? We are seeing a world being torn apart by zealots. The biggest offenders (right now) seem to be Islamic zealots and Christian zealots. I fear the damage both can do equally, but loathe the latter as they are corrupting something I love dearly. I suspect that devout followers of Islam loathe the former for exactly the same reason.
So where is the line between praying and hoping for God’s law to win the day and pushing too hard to see this happen? I think I know where I would draw it. But how do we move forward as a society to heal our divides and seek a common vision? There I am a lot less certain.