Psalms 9 and 10, according to my faith tradition, are always considered together since the continuation of an acrostic poem begins in 9 and continues through the 10th psalm. We’re speaking of Hebrew letters here so don’t go searching for A-Z in your Bible’s translation of those works. Since that’s the way they were written – in tandem – that’s how I consider them today.
The plight of the helpless poor is the overarching theme of these psalms. The psalmist calls out for God to avenge them, rescuing them from their enemies. Of course, in the Old Testament there is much of the vengeful God figure that we do not see that often in the Gospels with Jesus’ teaching.
There is certainly a part of us that wants the bad guys to get their ‘comeuppance’ for the way they step on the defenseless with impunity. But that’s not the Way of Jesus. Oh, He has His moments. Remember when He tips over the moneychanger tables in the Temple? Or when He chastises the Pharisees, those “brood of vipers,” as He characterizes them. And Jesus repeatedly asks us to consider, take care of, the widow, the poor, children, the weak. These psalms do the same.
The theme of the caring for the oppressed and downtrodden I found in Psalms 9 and 10 is echoed in the Beatitudes, actually. But in that profound preaching of Jesus the poor, the meek, the grieving, the hungry, all the forgotten ones in a society, are “blessed.” Blessed is another way of saying, “happy.” But happy doesn’t really cover it; it’s more about rejoicing. Be joyful when you are in any of these seemingly unenviable situations because God is with you. He is easier to see, encounter, just be with, when there are not a lot of other distractions in the way. These distractions often blind us to His presence, make us deaf to His words. If we are full of everything we could desire, we stop searching. Maybe we stop questioning. Though we never stop feeling there’s something more. And that ‘thing’ is God.
We’re never satisfied, always looking for the thing to make us completely happy. But we’ll never find it until we leave behind all the ‘bright, shiny baubles’ that distract us. We’ll never be truly happy until we find God. He is right in front of you. He’s all around you. He’s been calling you for your whole life. But other things that are good in small doses or that seem good because they make you feel good, are not God. And they never will be.
St. Augustine tells us that our hearts were made for God so they will always be restless until they rest in God’s loving embrace. I’ve maintained for years now that the Founding Fathers of the US were actually speaking of spiritual things in the Declaration of Independence when they stated that we human beings are endowed with the unalienable rights of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” That’s pursuing, searching, for the good ultimately found only in God. I talk more about this in a speech I gave entitled “The Pursuit of Happiness” which I turned into an earlier blog entry last year. It can be found if you go back to my October 16, 2017 entry.
So, yes, let’s pursue happiness, shall we? Let’s always want God at the center of our lives, the focus of our attention, before all else. We can’t lose if we live our lives for Him and with that Goodness and Love that is so big (infinite really) that with God at the center, we are completely engulfed in and so will find authentic joy. God is then in us, through us, with us everywhere we go and in all that we do. And that is a Heavenly thing.