Psalm 57

A Better Way to Be
Katharine Roller

Read Psalm 57

They dug a pit in my path,
   but they have fallen into it themselves. Selah
My heart is steadfast, O God … 
I will sing and make melody.

I can admit it: I am an inveterate holder of grudges. People who have sharpened their teeth and their tongues on me, people who have set snares for me, set me up to fall — I’m sorry to say I often remember them for far longer than I remember those who’ve done me a kindness. Sometimes the hardest thing is that there’s no closure, no justice, no reason to believe that they’ll ever understand that what they did was wrong.

Psalm 57 reminds me that there’s a better way to be: without overlooking or underplaying the consequences of those who seek to harm, we can fix our eyes on the Lord, seeking his mercy and love rather than vengeance and resentment. Not just for ourselves, either — the speaker pauses to note that those who “have dug a pit in my path” are now the ones lying fallen at the bottom. They are in need of God’s mercy, too. In fact, they need it more — lying there in the dark, humiliated by failure, and in pain, while their intended victims rest sheltered in the shadow of the Lord’s wings.

And as for closure? Well, I don’t know if “living well is the best revenge” is a very Christian philosophy, but Psalm 57 turns our focus away from those who’ve wronged us and toward the one who has saved us, reminding us how very good we have it. We have been hurt, all of us, in ways big and small, and the psalm acknowledges that, but before and during and after that hurt, because of that hurt and in spite of that hurt, we set our hearts, steadfast, on the majesty and beauty of God’s glory, offering up praise and thanksgiving for the One who has done all things for us.

Give us steadfast hearts, O Lord, to praise you in the midst of adversity. As you have shown us mercy, may we show mercy to those who have wronged us, learning from the example of your Son, Jesus Christ.

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