Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the fold of your garment and destroy them (Psalm 74:11 NIV)!
Friend to Friend
My hubs and I were obsessed with the TV show Person of Interest. The plot is fast-paced and features two main characters: a former CIA agent, and a mysterious, tech-savvy billionaire. The duo prevents crimes using technology and vigilante justice.
Each episode features complicated characters in critical situations. Life and death situations. Tensions are always heightened, and people often look over their shoulders to see who might be after them. As you’d imagine, what I didn’t see while watching Person of Interest was people in danger, casually hanging out with their hands in their pockets.
When we have our hands in our pockets, it means we’re relaxed… that our guard is down… that we’re neutral – not on the offense or defense of anything.
When we have our hands in our pockets, we’re not prepared to resist blows from an enemy.
When we have our hands in our pockets, we can’t attack an enemy.
And you don’t see people walking around with their hands constrained in the dark. If I’m in a dark place my hands are up. I’m trying to feel the walls or barriers that might cause me to trip. I’m trying to prevent harm and keep from running into things.
As I consider this hands-in-the-pockets posturing, it makes sense that the psalmist used this type of illustration when expressing his frustration with God for not protecting His people. “Why do you hold back your hand, your right hand? Take it from the fold of your garment and destroy them” (Psalm 74:11). “Rise up, God, champion your cause! Remember the insults that fools bring against you all day long” (Psalm 74:22).
It’s as if he’s throwing his hands in the air and challenging God’s interest in things of earth. He gets a bit gutsy, and essentially calls Him out. Why aren’t you doing anything about this, God? These guys are mocking you and destroyed Your sanctuary! They’ve insulted Your name! Wake up! Rise up! Don’t let them get away with this! Stop ignoring the devastation that’s taken place and protect Your people! Get Your hands out of Your pockets, already?!
Man, I feel that. Even today.
I feel that when I think about red-light districts that traffic humanity, destroy dignity and celebrate slavery. I feel that when I think about helpless babies who are unprotected from death in the name of women’s health. I feel that when an armed gunman opens fire on elementary school children.
Yeah. I get why the psalmist was frustrated with the perceived distance of God.
Evil is infuriating.
Yet, I understand why the Bible shows us that His patience with us often runs low. As a society, we try to keep God out of our laws, our choices, our calendars, and our morality, but we want Him to show up like an illuminated superhero when darkness and discouragement presses in.
We see the broken and want the beauty, but don’t necessarily want the lordship of the One who makes all things beautiful.
Psalm 74 reminds me that when we feel forgotten, rejected, or crushed… when it seems God has His hands in His pockets and is oblivious to the work of the enemy… like the psalmist, we can pray honestly, knowing He hears.
We can balance languished laments with reverence and remembrance.
I can’t wrap a pretty bow on this one. It’s hard stuff. It’s comforting, however, knowing that even when God’s timing and silence leaves us shaking our heads, the truth is He has moved powerfully in and through ashes of destruction in the past and He’s still at work all around us.
Dear Lord, You know the blisterings in our homes and the burdens of our hearts. Please help. Heal our land. Shut the mouth of fear. Crush the chains that bind and decimate darkness with light. Make all that’s wrong right for the sake of Your name, Lord.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
On a scale of 1-10, how honest are your prayers?
Spend some time in prayer. Get beyond your list of things and people you’d like God to fix and focus on who He is. Worship. Give thanks.
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