“In Judah God is known; His name is great in Israel. In Salem also is His tabernacle, and His dwelling place in Zion. There He broke the arrows of the bow, the shield and sword of battle.
Selah Psalm 76:1–3
Psalm seventy is another of the psalms of Asaph and it celebrates God’s judgement and wrath as it’s directed against the violent oppressor.
While far more poetic and cultured Asaph’s verses remind me of the boastful comparisons often made by little boys when talking about how strong and capable their fathers are when it comes to protecting and providing for their families. It doesn’t matter how big the challenge is my daddy is big enough, strong enough, smart enough to meet it and overcome it.
There is however one big difference. The boasts of little boys exaggerate the capabilities of their fathers because in their immaturity children don’t yet appreciate how big the problems are and how limited their fathers really are.
But Asaph was not a little boy. He was a grown man living among warriors and mighty men in a land frequently touched by violence and death. His understanding may not be perfect but it was not that of the immature variety possessed by the little boys.
At the same time Asaph’s boasts regarding God’s ability to face any oppressor fall short of describing the most important of God’s attributes. You see, like every good father, the ability to defend and protect, while being important, isn’t the attribute most prized by those who know and love them. It’s God’s care, loving kindness and tenderness to his friends and children that are most valued.
In this sin filled world far too often God has to step in as defender and judge but I believe the roles he prefers to play in our lives as our Heavenly Father are that of provider, nurturer, teacher, healer, and blesser.
This is what Christ’s earthly life and ministry reveals. Only rarely did Jesus do anything in anger. In less than a handful of instances did Jesus assert himself as a judge. Sin has forced him at times to act in judgment and wrath but this is not the role he prefers for himself and he is working to bring the time of sin, oppression and judgment to an end.
I praise God that he is able to meet and overcome the violence of this world, and I praise him more that he is not a God of violence. Rather he is a God of love and peace. I look forward to living in his kingdom of peace when at last the violence of this world is ended.