Tender and brutal. Who was king David? A poet and a warrior. Intensely emotional, a tough and effective mercenary. He takes us amazing places, but surely few of us can go to all of them, he’s a rare bird.
He gets that religion is about the heart. He gets that temptation draws your heart to it. You, not it, are to blame. And a rebuke and a slap for the right things are blessings from God.
Please let me recognise that one. So often when I am told off, I reflect back the hurt of the moment, the wound to my pride. Later, when I am cool enough to actually take on board the truth, so rarely do I close the loop and go and express my gratitude to the person who rebuked me.
In the flow of the psalm, this idea leads to an aside from David that those he rebuked will recognise the truth of his words once they have been thrown down from their high place and their bones scattered without a decent burial.
“You’ll wish you’d listened to me once you’re dead!” Is an impossible kind of rebuke, but one likely to startle the hearer. It sits oddly in a psalm that has been so reflective up to that point.
He returns to a more worthy tone to conclude, fixing his eyes on God, though he does still express satisfaction anticipating his enemies’ self destruction.
If Trump goes, for instance, I will be satisfied, particularly if it’s dished out with some of the pain and humiliation he visits on those around him too powerless to object. David goes there, some have suggested this might be about his relationship with king Saul. But he knows his thoughts should really be fixed on God and his own holiness.
He knows it is by the grace of God, not his doing, that He can slip by unscathed as others mess up.
We live in a distracting age, may I remember that too.