Psalm 9:13-14 O Lord, see how my enemies persecute me!
Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death,
that I may declare your praises
in the gates of the Daughter of Zion
and there rejoice in your salvation.
These two verses have some interesting points. In the first place, the reason to ask God for His mercy is so that we may declare His praise. Praise to God isn’t an obligation, like a tax, it is a recognition that everything good comes from Him. (James 1:17) Rather than an obligation, it is a privilege to be able to express our praise to God. It’s not at all that He needs it, to stroke His ego or otherwise, but that we need to keep our thinking straight about who His is and who we are. Another interesting thing is the literary contrast of “the gates of death” and “the gates of the Daughter of Zion.” This is in line with the contrast presented throughout the Bible that God’s kingdom is life and light and everything apart from Him is death and darkness. The thought is hardly unique to this passage, but the point is important. It is interesting to me that where the NIV says, “See how my enemies persecute me,” the Japanese says, “See my troubles that come from those who hate me.” We tend to think of persecution in broad terms, particularly for religious or ethnic reasons, but to me the way it’s put in the Japanese is a little more personal, because people hate for all sorts of reasons. Whatever the reason and however it’s described, hatred is never easy to deal with. That’s why we, like David, need to turn to God whenever we find that people hate us for any reason.
I don’t know that I’ve dealt with hatred all that much. I’ve been blessed! However, I have dealt with people who have been envious of me or have disliked me for any number of reasons. Occasionally such people have deliberately tried to do me harm, but such incidents have been relatively minor. In my experience, the emotional trauma of words spoken and attitudes taken has been the biggest issue, but that’s not to say it’s been pleasant. In any case, my attitude has got to be to turn to and depend on God, expressing His love even to those who are mean to me whatever form it takes. (Matthew 5:43-45) If I will do that, I will have plenty of reason and opportunity to give Him praise in the assembly of those who love Him.
Father, thank You for Your protection over the years. I’m sure I know only the smallest fraction of all that You have protected me from. In these days I am bombarded with news of people who are enduring far worse than I ever have, inflicted by those with a wide variety of labels who are rebelling against You and hate those who love You. I ask Your mercy indeed for those who are suffering because of hatred, and pray that Your Name may be hallowed and Your kingdom come as Your perfect will is done, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!