by Martin Oldfield
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‘Do not let me be put to shame nor let my enemies triumph over me. Guide me in your truth’ (Psalm 25:2,5).
David was at war on many fronts. He fought military battles with the Philistines, the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Syrians, the Edomites and a few others to boot (2 Samuel 8–10). He fought verbal wars: ‘howling like dogs and prowling about the city … bellowing with their mouths, with sharp words on their lips’ (Psalm 59:6–7). And ‘their tongue sharp as a snake’s; and under their lips is the venom of vipers’ (Psalm 140:3). He fought moral wars: people lying, saying one thing and doing another (Psalm 109); oppressing the poor (Psalm 10); bribery (Psalm 26:10); and judicial corruption (Psalm 109:5–10). He had more enemies than he could poke a stick at! No wonder he was moved to cry out in anguish ‘Do not let my enemies triumph over me’.
Deadset, he could have been writing about us. We still have wars and lying, cheating, corruption and oppression. But we have raised verbal wars to new heights through the internet and social media platforms. God, in dealing with the Tower of Babel dilemma, declared that if humans speak the same language and can build a tower, then nothing will be impossible for them (Genesis 11:6).
In other words, a universal language will become a problem. English has become a universal language. Our instant access to information and social platforms has become a problem. In a few keystrokes, a nameless person can destroy another’s worth, reputation and life.
In a recent study, 60% of millennials said that technology and digital interactions make them more careful about how they share their faith, and 58% state that people are now more likely to see them as offensive if they share their faith (Barna Research in Faith for Exiles, p27).
We live in an increasingly global, secular, and materialistic society that shames people when they speak of their faith. Doesn’t this sound a lot like David’s dilemma, ‘Do not let my enemies shame me’?
David cried out ‘Guide me in your truth’. He understood that looking to God was the only antidote to feeling shame. We need to understand this, as well. We are sons and daughters of the Creator, and our identity is determined by this relationship. It is in his truth and through this relationship that we find the antidote to the shame piled upon us by those who do not know and love God.
Dear Dad, I live in a world that makes it very hard for me to tell people about you. This has probably been the case throughout history, but that doesn’t help me here and now. Please guide me in your truth as I revel in my identity as your child and shamelessly tell the world about you. Amen.