Your Words are Smooth as Butter and War is in your Heart
Whose job is it to take up the cause of the poor and vulnerable? That may be at the heart of our discussion about how we are to treat those who are most in need in our society. Undoubtedly some would answer that it’s not government’s job to take care of the poor in our society. Some may even say that government is part of the problem. However one answers this question, suffice it to say that those of us who consider ourselves people of faith and who are part of congregations, would certainly understand that we have an obligation to care for the poor. Throughout the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, we are presented with verses about God’s command to care for the poor. So if we are to seek God, we have to take this command seriously. Then we have to ask ourselves and those in our congregations, if we are doing our part to care for the poor.
Now let’s look at our scripture for today. Clearly the Psalmist is grieved and troubled. For those of us who aren’t in economic distress, who aren’t crushed by the overwhelming obligations to pay our bills because we barely make enough to get by, it may be hard for us to imagine crying out to God in the evening, morning and noon. The claim of faith made the Psalmist in spite of the burdensome weight that is present is inspiring. To cast our lot with God, believing that God will sustain us should be something that more of us do.
Perhaps though, what is also fascinating is the Psalmist’s depiction of the person in verse 20. This is a smooth-talking person who has violated a covenant and insists on creating enough dissension that the Psalmist uses metaphors of war (heart is at war, swords being drawn).
If the Psalmist were alive today, to whom would the Psalmist be referring? Who are those people whose “words are smooth as butter?” If we are not careful, we might be tempted to blame the victim and believe that folks who are poor or who are working poor are in their economic plight, because they are lazy, unwilling to work or “gaming the system.” There seems to be an all out attack on those who are economically vulnerable and many would have us believe that it’s the fault of those who are making minimum wage, who don’t have access to adequate health care or who are undocumented immigrants in our communities. As people of faith, we need to take our covenant more seriously to seek God and care for the poor.
My prayer is we all cast our cares on the Lord so that we may all be sustained and may God hear our prayers so that all of us can trust in God.
Deth Im, CCO Director of Clergy and Congregational Organizing