Tuesday: Psalms 58-59 & 1 Corinthians 8.1-6

From Mark Booker

Psalm 58: The situation addressed by the psalm is one of systemic injustice from rulers (ESV says 'gods' in v1). One thinks of King Assad in Syria shooting, starving, and bombing his own people, bearing responsibility for a war that has displaced more than half of Syria's 22 million people. Instead of judging rightly, preserving justice, defending the weak, these rulers prioritize their own power and in so doing 'deal out violence on earth.' The appeal is for God to 'sweep them away' (v9).

When God does so, the righteous rejoice. We're shocked and left with questions by the graphic picture endorsed by the psalm, that the righteous will "bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked"  (v10). But the psalms are raw, real, and honest. It's not hard to imagine the victims of violence and injustice in Syria, or many other parts of the world, who have been bathing their feet in their own blood, depicting their rejoicing in the overthrow of a wicked ruler in such graphic ways. In the psalm, that rejoicing is rooted not in their own self-righteousness but in the fact that there is a God who 'judges the earth' (v11) with a right judgment, who will preserve and defend the order of his creation that wicked rulers destroy. This is something to celebrate.

Psalm 59: The use of one's lips is an important window into the heart. The wicked howl like dogs (v8, v14), they bellow (v7), they curse and utter lies in their pride (v12). But the psalmist - in the face of their unjust opposition - sings of God's strength and steadfast love (v16). He sings praises to God, the God who shows him steadfast love (v17). And, of course, as the entire psalm shows, he cries out for help, for rescue, and for God to act justly (v5, vv11-13) - much like the cry in Psalm 58. How will we use our lips today?

1 Corinthians 8.1-6: In chapters 8-10 of 1 Corinthians, Paul is facing the question of how the new-Exodus people of God are supposed to live in a world full of idolatry. That was the question facing Moses in the context of Deuteronomy at the edge of the Promised Land. In that moment, Moses gives Israel the Shema, a statement about the oneness of God - the rescuing God - and Israel's commitment to him which will guide them in the land. Here, Paul draws on the Shema and expands it in v6 to include Jesus. The inclusion of the crucified Jesus in the divine identity was and remains a radical (and divisive) statement about the nature of God. But this is the heart of our faith. Our commitment to this one God, the Father "from whom are all things", who is revealed in Jesus, the Lord, "through whom are all things" (v6), will guide and direct our living in a world of idolatry.