Psalm 69: 22 Let their table be a trap for (evil ones), a snare for their allies. 23 Let their eyes be darkened so that they cannot see, and make their loins tremble continually. 24 Pour out your indignation upon them, and let your burning anger overtake them. 25 May their camp be a desolation; let no one live in their tents. 26 For they persecute those whom you have struck down, and those whom you have wounded, they attack still more. 27 Add guilt to their guilt; may they have no acquittal from you.28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous. 29 But I am lowly and in pain; let your salvation, O God, protect me.
This psalm is attributed to King David who cries out to God when he is under attack, persecuted by those around him. There are a number of psalms written by David with this sort of theme, which is a bit confusing to me. After all, David was a king. He held the levers of power in his hands, armies at his disposal, wealth in his possession. So it’s not clear to me how someone with this sort of privilege and high station was so frequently attacked.
On the other hand, it’s not hard to understand the outrage around the death of George Floyd in Minnesota – an African-American man who died in police custody. We don’t know all the details around the encounter, but watching the video it’s hard to understand why a police officer would ignore the man’s pleas for relief – lasting several minutes – when he was having trouble breathing and then went unconscious.
In these kinds of encounters the police have all of the agency: the authority, the badge, the weapon, backup support, and so on. The officers on the scene have all been fired, but a man is dead and there’s no coming back from that. So as I read this passage I imagine George Floyd as the writer – crying out for relief and justice from the violent world around him.
Heavenly Father, receive Mr. Floyd as one of your own, for Jesus’ sake. Bring your peace in the midst of needless violence. Amen.