From the Pastor's Pen
I read Psalm 72 this morning as part of Morning Prayer. It’s not one of the more difficult psalms, but it’s still a bit challenging to my theology. It just doesn’t jive with our modern understanding of the role of political leaders.
Psalm 72 is a prayer for the king.
God, give your judgments to the king.
Give your righteousness to the king’s son.
Now, it’s not one of the “may the king slaughter all his enemies” psalms, but the language is still a little strange to my ears.
Let the king rule from sea to sea,
from the river to the ends of the earth.
Let the desert dwellers bow low before him;
let his enemies lick the dust.
Let the kings of Tarshish and the islands bring tribute;
let the kings of Sheba and Seba present gifts.
Let all the kings bow down before him;
let all the nations serve him.
I’ve been educated to value the limiting of political power, not the strengthening of it. I’ve been educated to value the diversification of political power, not the centering of power in fewer hands. It is too easy for people with more power to hoard that power or shower favor from it on friends and donors. I think that’s why the verses that follow are a really central tenet of Psalm 72.
Let it be so, because he delivers the needy who cry out,
the poor, and those who have no helper.
He has compassion on the weak and the needy;
he saves the lives of those who are in need.
He redeems their lives from oppression and violence;
their blood is precious in his eyes.
I suspect that the best litmus test for the quality of power is how it is distributed to the powerless.
In a democracy like ours, that will mean ensuring that every person has a voice in our election. Every effort should be made to get a ballot in every hand. Every effort should be made to educate every voter, not just to feed them propaganda.
Every effort should be made to ensure that everyone has enough good food to eat.
Every effort should be made to ensure that everyone has shelter.
Every effort should be made to ensure that everyone has access to the best healthcare.
Every effort should be made to ensure that everyone can enhance their gifts so that everyone’s giftedness is available for the benefit of the community.
Every effort should be made to ensure that everyone’s life has meaning.
Every effort should be made to ensure that everyone’s life has value.
Every effort should be made to ensure that everyone’s life has love.
I believe that is the responsibility of those who hold power.
I believe that’s true in government, and I believe it’s true in the Church. I believe in the priesthood of all believers. Further, I believe in the priesthood of all people. All people made in God’s image are holy. We all represent the Divine. We all speak and act on God’s behalf.
I believe it’s time to embrace the dignity and giftedness of all people.
Let the righteous flourish throughout their lives,
and let peace prosper until the moon is no more.