Written by Dan Kim, Pastor of Gum Spring United Methodist Church in Gum Spring, VA.
Psalm 62, New Revised Standard Version
Song of Trust in God Alone
To the leader: according to Jeduthun. A Psalm of David.
1 For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall never be shaken.
3 How long will you assail a person,
will you batter your victim, all of you,
as you would a leaning wall, a tottering fence?
4 Their only plan is to bring down a person of prominence.
They take pleasure in falsehood;
they bless with their mouths,
but inwardly they curse.Selah
5 For God alone my soul waits in silence,
for my hope is from him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
7 On God rests my deliverance and my honor;
my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people;
pour out your heart before him;
God is a refuge for us.Selah
9 Those of low estate are but a breath,
those of high estate are a delusion;
in the balances they go up;
they are together lighter than a breath.
10 Put no confidence in extortion,
and set no vain hopes on robbery;
if riches increase, do not set your heart on them.
11 Once God has spoken;
twice have I heard this:
that power belongs to God,
12 and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord.
For you repay to all
according to their work.
Matthew 16:27, New Revised Standard Version
27 “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.
I do a lot of my praying while driving. It’s quiet, I’m alone, and I can be as confessional and ineloquent as I want. I will usually pray for the day that I’m having, but every once in a while, perhaps more oftentimes during rush hour, I will pray for the cars/drivers around me. I remember this one time I prayed for a lifted Ford truck that was behind me. He was tailgating me; all the while trying to push his way through what is clearly a traffic jam. I may have passive-aggressively driven even slower as a result. My prayers started out genial. “Lord, be with this truck that is right behind me. May he realize that he’s too close and drive more safely. Amen.” However, and I’ll be honest here, my so-called “prayers” turned rather ugly, especially when he got right next to me, honked, and stared me down while speeding off. I prayed, “God of all power and might! Be with this truck right now! May your justice roll like waters and righteousness! May he realize the error of his ways!” Ok, maybe I was being a little too overzealous, but the most incredible thing happened 10 minutes later. I saw him pulled over by a police officer and receiving what I hoped was a hefty ticket for his reckless driving. I felt vindicated. I felt avenged! I shook my fist in the air and declared, “Vengeance is mine in my Toyota Corolla!”
However, it’s not. And the following scriptures would say otherwise. Psalm 62:11-12 says, “Once God has spoken, twice I have heard this; that power belongs to God and steadfast love belongs to you, O Lord. For you repay to all according to their work.” Jesus says in Matthew 16:27, “For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done.” Romans 12:19 says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’”
Prayer is not a weapon I can wield like some tattletale hotline for God to police through divine justice. Prayer is an experience of God’s love and grace that shapes us to those ends. And justice belongs to the Lord. That’s indeed the lesson these passages teach me. But, I still want to pray in my car and for those cars around me. How then should I pray? Well, I turn to another passage in Matthew for that. Matthew 5:43-45: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.” I should pray like that more often in my car. God bless and be with the truck tailgating me. God bless and be with the car on my right that is texting while driving. God bless and be with the red-light runner in front of me. God forgive me who doesn’t pray righteously or drive safely all the time in my car.
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