Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Enemies Everywhere: The Psalmist's Struggle for Survival

After being a member of SBL for 10 years I finally made it to its International Meeting and presented a paper to boot. I was rather fortunate as it was the first session at 9am on the first day of the seminar proper. The room was too small since normally one does not get more than 15 people turning up. But lo and behold more and more people turned up and at the end more than 30 professors were present with 4 or 5 standing at the back. After the first two speakers I presented my paper at 10am sharp and used up my allocated 22 minutes and there were 3 questions from the floor and it all ended on time. I spoke from the Psalms, my favourite biblical book. It was a large topic as the word enemy or enemies is found 103 times in the Psalter and I examined the first 10 Davidic psalms but referred to other psalms when they come handy. I did not want it to be totally academic or overly technical. I  did not once use a Hebrew word because the Hebrew word for enemy is not in dispute. Why does the Psalmist have so many enemies?
It is because of his faith in Yhwh. It is because of his torah centred life. He takes delight in the Law and meditates on it day and night (Psalm 1). It is because his vision of life is totally centred in God. God is everything to the Psalmist. And for those who do not know this God, they invariably belong to the other side, the side of evil labeled as sinners and sinners. They persecute the Psalmist because he is righteous and that the Psalmist's cause is just. The Psalmist's enemies are God's enemies and because of that God as the righteous judge will punish the evildoers and those who hate and persecute the righteous. After my presentation some 4 or 5 people came up and spoke with me. Even at night one Malaysian scholar over dinner thanked me for the paper. Praise be to God. I told my students back home even the Professors need Jesus Christ and God's truth.

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