I remember someone once talking about hearing from God, and the discussion turned to whether God speaks with an audible voice. For me, and for most people, God more often “speaks” through happenings and impressions, but it is strangely conversational. Just yesterday, I posted some thoughts about confronting evil with forcible action. It was an awkward thing to write about, because Christianity is more about love than violence. So where do I find myself the next day but continuing to read in psalms. I just happen to be at Psalm 120:
“Woe is me for I sojourn in Meshech, for I dwell among the tents of Kedar. Too long has my soul had its dwelling with those who hate peace. I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war.”
The psalmist is writing about the struggle of living daily among enemies, like the Christians who live in Muslim countries and face persecution just because they are not Muslim. Although our situation isn’t nearly as desperate, American Christians navigate a stressful existence among an increasingly contentious nation of people. It’s truly amazing how many things we can be disagreeable about. It has an effect on us, and it isn’t good. The stress generates fear and anger and results in a terrible kind of unease that wears on our spirits.
So God speaks to me through Psalm 120 and tells me the way I feel is not new. People of all ages have lived with the unease of enemies around them. When we were in Israel, a representative of our travel agency gave a little speech at dinner and said, “All we want is to live our lives in safety without fear.” What God is reminding me through the psalms is that we can’t let our enemies change us. God says that we, his people, are for peace. We might arm ourselves as a last resort, but we are for peace. Psalm 122 records,
“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: may they prosper who love you…For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will now say may peace be within you. For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.”