Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever1
How was life supposed to be for us? Certainly not plagued by abuse. Much of the Old Testament describes what it means to love and respect each other. Not only as individuals: it teaches us how to avoid systemic abuse by making sure the vulnerable are cared for. God’s clear intention is for us to thrive together in every way. Our physical and emotional wellbeing matter to him. So do our ethics. That place of thriving and prosperity, where there is a sanctuary from people with ill intent: that’s the promised land. It does require humans to be good to each other.
Psalm 37 says,
Trust in Yahweh and do good. Dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.2
Yet again that name “Yahweh” is a reminder that God is able, and it sits alongside a call for us to do good.
It is very easy to tell someone to trust in God. Honestly, sometimes it can be a convenient way of avoiding responsibility for being part of the solution. There are often opportunities to see the pain caused by those who could help in practical ways but limit themselves to “thoughts and prayers”. God expects more from humanity than that.
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion
We find here in Psalm 125 not a command to trust God, but a painting of his worthiness. It’s invitational. It explains the wisdom of trusting him and is expressed with empathy. It promises that the power of the wicked will not remain, but that promise is not yet fulfilled. For the pilgrims who followed these psalms, this song came before they had even reached the halfway point to the place of sanctuary. They had a long way yet to go.
The writer has empathy and mercy for those who continue to live under the power of the wicked – knowing that relentless pressure might push them beyond their limits. Many abusers use a tactic of applying more and more pressure on a victim, often deliberately in the victim’s most vulnerable places, until they get a reaction. That is, they will deliberately hurt their victim in the most painful ways. Then they use that reaction, which is just a response to extreme pressure, to their own advantage. This psalm invites us to see victims through God’s eyes. To see through their reactions to abuse. To see the person in adversity.
I am reminded often of Hebrews 13:
Remember those who are in prison as though in prison with them.3
Today, being Easter Saturday is a reminder of Jesus’ deep solidarity with all who need his help.
From that position of mercy, of entering into the world of the oppressed, it is natural for a deep prayer to rise:
Yahweh, do good to those who are upright in heart!4
And to remember, with some relief, that those who align themselves with evil will ultimately be removed.
Will you pray with us?
Please, would you pause a moment to be present with this psalm and with those who are suffering?
Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion,
which cannot be shaken but endures forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
so the LORD surrounds his people
both now and forevermore.
The sceptre of the wicked will not remain
over the land allotted to the righteous,
for then the righteous might use
their hands to do evil.
LORD, do good to those who are good,
to those who are upright in heart.
But those who turn to crooked ways
the LORD will banish with the evildoers.
Peace be on Israel.5
Steve WadeMany abusers use a tactic of applying more and more pressure on a victim, often deliberately in the victim’s most vulnerable places, until they get a reaction. Click To Tweet