My thoughts (Steve Adams):
Cruel words — they hurt, don’t they? They certainly hurt the Psalmist — to the point he wrote this lament, asking God to preserve his life from “the dread enemy…shooting from ambush at the blameless.” The aim of these verbal arrows of evil can be to cause emotional pain, or they can even attempt to steal something concrete that is rightfully ours.
But, as the last verse of this Psalm declares, God is our refuge. Our Creator has given each of us a gift that makes us eternally immune from the slings and arrows of outrageous lies: righteousness (Romans 5:17)! And no one — whether it be a boss, coworker, family member, friend, enemy, or legislator — can alter this unchangeable reality. God defines.
So what is this thing called righteousness? I would describe it as the basic, intrinsic dignity God gives to each of us. Each and every person is valued and respected — which means that each has the unrestricted right to grow into his/her own uniqueness. Does righteousness mean I’m always right? Absolutely not! It’s freeing to realize, though, that when I’m in touch with my righteousness, I am secure enough to admit when I’m wrong.
The challenge for us, then, is to REMEMBER we are righteous! It’s so easy to forget. We need to absorb the REALITY of it into the depth of our hearts, so we can freely access it during the busyness and pressures of life. As Psalm 103 declares: forget not all God’s benefits. The more we rejoice in the treasures of God’s gifts, the more firmly they establish themselves in our minds. We develop the skill of mindfulness concerning God. We just love God so much that we love thinking about Her/Him! It becomes one of our favorite things to do!
We hold fast to God’s love; we cleave to God’s goodness. Then, if there’s a need to respond to a verbal aggressor — such as confronting him/her — we are open to access the peace, love, and strength of God in order to do it skillfully and with wisdom.
Thought for the day: God, thank you for giving each and every one of us a refuge of righteousness, a shield of truth that nurtures and protects us from those who use their tongues as swords.
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the suggestions on the How to Pray page.