15 Break the arm of the wicked and evildoers;
   seek out their wickedness until you find none.

16 The Lord is king for ever and ever;
   the nations shall perish from his land.

17 O Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek;
   you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear
18 to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed,
   so that those from earth may strike terror no more.

It is going to be a sparsely populated landscape if God heeds HP’s prayer here. A world in which there is absolutely no room for “wickedness” is a world that will not have room even for me.

The problem with HP’s dualistic, enemy-formation worldview is that it inevitably leads to dissimulation. I cannot possibly pray that God might “seek out their wickedness until you find none,” without seeing that I am asking for my own banishment from the land. Any fingers pointed at my “enemies” are always equalled by the fingers pointing back at my own life. I am not without guilt.  And, in the absence of grace, I am without hope.

Perhaps even HP opens a crack to this awareness, as he goes on to proclaim, “O Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek/humble/poor/oppressed.”

This resonates with Jesus who is reported in Luke’s Gospel to have said,

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God (Luke 6:23).

To be “poor” has nothing to do necessarily with being in dire straits financially. To be “poor” as Jesus uses it here, means to be aware that to get anywhere on the steep journey of the spiritual life I am going to need “the helper of the orphan” (10:14). I am dispossessed, cut off from my true home in the Divine. Only when I am willing to cry out for help will I begin to turn back and be able to return home. This is the cry that I will not utter as long as I insist on seeing the “wicked” only as someone other than myself.

How do I see wickedness manifesting in my daily life?

Lord help me to open to your help.


nb: Today is our last Psalm study on zoom as we take a break for the summer. It has been a gift to walk along with thirteen wise pilgrims and wrestle with the words of HP. At this point I am not sure what we will study in the fall when we return to regular activities.