2 In arrogance the wicked persecute the poor—
   let them be caught in the schemes they have devised.

3 For the wicked boast of the desires of their heart,
   those greedy for gain curse and renounce the Lord.
4 In the pride of their countenance the wicked say, ‘God will not seek it out’;
   all their thoughts are, ‘There is no God.’

Probably the safest way for me to read these angry vengeful words that HP pours out against those he calls the “wicked,” is to count myself among the number of those who receive the poet’s censure. It is a salutary thing for me to allow HP’s harsh words to serve as a mirror to my own life.  

The truth is, I can see myself in all the descriptions HP uses to speak about these evil ones he denounces.

I do “persecute the poor.” I benefit from the labours of people who work under unbearably difficult conditions. While I live in comfort and abundance, I know full well that there are multitudes in the world who lack the basic necessities of life. I scheme and strategize for my own well-being, without genuine thought for those who might be hurt by my choices.

I am “greedy for gain” and, by my lack of concern for their well-being my life is a “curse” against the power of generosity and compassion that is the nature of “the Lord.” I “renounce the Lord,” by my failure to take seriously the consequences of my actions for the flourishing of God’s creation and God’s people whose lives are plundered and laid waste by the exploitation from which I benefit.

This is not inappropriate or neurotic guilt. It is an accurate picture of reality. I live in a world in which I benefit from the oppression of those who are vastly less fortunate than I. I live in a world in which God’s creation is daily laid waste by my actions. And, I live in this world as if I believe God does not notice, as if I believe “There is no God.”

How can I live more compassionately on this earth for the flourishing of all life-forms?

Lord, help me to see more clearly the pain my life choices inflict on others and on the land we share. Help me to amend my ways that I might live more consistently for the well-being of all people and the whole of creation.