Although the enemy doesn’t deserve a blessing, the psalmist offers one anyway.
Let them be like the grass on the housetops,
which withers before it grows up,
7 with which the reaper does not fill his hand
nor the binder of sheaves his arms,
8 nor do those who pass by say,
“The blessing of the Lord be upon you!
We bless you in the name of the Lord!”
After reading this portion of Psalm 129, you may find it somewhat disturbing and perplexing. But, let’s remember the Psalm as a whole. As the psalmist appropriately releases his emotions by honesty exposing them to God, we can observe his process as well as his conclusion. He begins by crying out about his affliction, then comes to the crux of his pain and declares a confident “yet” which acknowledges God’s protection and involvement amidst the struggle. Even when he recognizes God, he continues to express frustration concerning his opposition – even wishing and praying for them not to succeed.
In today’s reading, we notice the psalmist praying directly against his enemy. As if he shouts, “may my enemy never be greeted with God’s peace and blessing.” However, ironically, the psalmist stops. He pauses for a moment and looks back at what he’s written. Looking at the whole story, he sees how God has protected him and how the enemy has not won out. He realizes evil has not prevailed and although the enemy doesn’t deserve a blessing, the psalmist offers one anyway.
He turns back and says “We bless you in the name of the Lord” (Psalm 129:8). This is remarkable. Pastor Ryan reminded us on Sunday that there is a way we can walk through affliction with God where we come out with more life, more joy and more motivation to bless on the other side. He says, “perseverance positions us to extend the blessing of God.” As a challenge for today, consider the person you might turn to bless at the conclusion of your psalm of affliction. Use Numbers 6:24-26 as a guide to write out a blessing over that person today.
24 The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
By Yvonne Biel