Psalm 44 – Protest for Advent

Last night history unfolded. The Grand Jury in St. Louis, Missouri elected not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. In the protests that ensued, highway 44 which cuts through the North Side of Saint Louis was closed in both directions by protesters.

The events were hard to see but God’s word speaks to such troubled situations. Psalm 44 starts out with a recounting of the work of the Lord on behalf of His people “O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old…But you have saved us from our foes and have put to shame those who hate us. In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever.” (Psalm 44:1,7-8)

The psalmist turns then from remembrance to lamenting crying out that God has rejected and disgraced His people, led them to slaughter, caused them to be scattered, made them into laughingstock in the face of the taunters, revilers, enemies, and avengers. (Psalm 44:9-16)

This was unfolding in Saint Louis. Protesters lamenting their rejection by the authorities, feeling disgraced, they mourned and protest slaughter, they are dispersed from crowds of mobs, they are the butt of jokes by their taunting opponents. And their taunting and taunted opponents lamenting likewise only from the other side, they the authority rejected by the public they were sworn to defend. Feeling disgraced and scorned for actions in the line of duty.

Perhaps if these protesters and officers had only more faith in God they would not face such dire circumstances of violence and persecution. Psalm 44 does not allow that would happen. No one gets out of the tribulation of this world early for good behavior. Verse 17 says “all this has come upon us, though we have not forgotten you, and we have not been false to your covenant.” No amount of innocence, being good, not being armed, good intentions, justified by self defense, in the line of duty explanations can be made to keep the derision (sin) away. While we are in this world we have trouble, yet the psalmist points us to the one who has overcome the world.

The psalm of the forgotten, forsaken, oppressed and persecuted people of God ends with God’s people crying out, “Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord? Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever! … Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!(Psalm 44:23, 26) And so we too cry out as we enter the Season of Advent, “Stir up your power O Lord, and come!” Come quickly Lord Jesus.

Indeed the prayers of God’s people are heard and answered but our waiting remains as death still reigns. It has no dominion over us as it has been defeated but the lies of the ruler of this world would have us believe otherwise. The prince of darkness would have you forget that in scripture we see history filled with the salvation from our redeemer Christ when He hung on the cross destroying the enemy that divides us all.

When will the killing stop? This is a question that we know the answer to in Christ. May that day come quickly as we yearn to see His glory revealed to the nations. And until that day, may the peace which passes all understanding guard and keep us in Him as many come to know Him through our sharing of His peace.

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