Psalm 3:6-8 Slappeth Them Upside The Head

I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies
    who surround me on every side.

Arise, O Lord!
    Rescue me, my God!
Slap all my enemies in the face!
    Shatter the teeth of the wicked!
Victory comes from you, O Lord.
    May you bless your people. 
                                                -- Psalm 3:6-8

How many times have we prayed like this? Maybe we didn’t ask God to shatter our enemy’s teeth, though at times we might want to: Smack them upside the head, O Lord, and teach-eth them a lesson for messing with me!

I was never bullied as a child; for the most part people simply ignored me. I was one of those background kids. Some of my friends were bullied quite badly, however, and this has left scars on them. As adults, there are people who use strength or intimidation to dominate others, or lash out against things they don't understand.

How do we respond when someone is attacking us? One thing David did with these written prayers is to ask God for justice. He didn’t mince words, either. Remember, he lived in a violent time. People often resolved differences with fists and weapons. It took many generations and infinite patience for God to steer this violent race towards considering more diplomatic solutions. Throughout the Psalms, meanwhile, King David prays for really bad things to happen to his enemies. Crush them, grind their bones, shatter their teeth, make them pay for what they have done, and see that I have remained faithful to you.

What a paradigm shift the Jews experienced in Jesus’ teachings. Love your enemies. If someone slaps you, turn the other cheek. If someone takes your shirt, give them your coat as well. Love our enemies and pray for people who persecute us. (Matt 5:38-40,44)

How we present ourselves, what kinds of words leave our mouths, how we react to obstacles put in our way, all reflect our faith. Words and actions will reflect our heart (Matt 15:18). Praying for people to be punished, for them to suffer, might momentarily give us some satisfaction. There, now they’ll get what’s coming to them. But have we learned nothing from Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie? Jesus calls us to see people how He sees them. He's in the transformation business. When we pray for someone who has wronged us, not for vengeance against them but a change of heart, for repentance, something in our outlook changes. Praying for someone forces us to regard them as a person whom Jesus died for, just as He died for us. Jesus loves the person, regardless of their actions. Remembering this might change, even subtly, how we behave towards them. And that might change something in them, force them to see how we live and what we believe in differently.

People are drawn close to light when they experience forgiveness. First from us, then eventually from God if only they'll ask for it. Remember, forgiveness doesn't mean condoning someone's behavior, or becoming their best friend. It simply means we won't harbor the resentment which gives what they did power over us. We might not like them, but we will love them as Jesus calls us to. The easiest way to do this is to pray for them.

Next time we pray for punishment, pause and consider what God wants. Try asking that they see what they've done in a better light, then repent from it. Pray also for patience for ourselves, that the wrong being done to us stops, and for protection if the situation warrants. All of it, in the end, should aim for people to be brought into closer communion with God. Because when that happens, everything gets better.


Lord, may the person who has wronged me see the error in their actions, and turn away from what they've done. May they see You in my reaction, and draw closer to You every day. May I have your heart, and may they as well, some day. In all this, give me more peace than I can handle. Amen.