One Voice for Peace
Give Us This Bread

Under Siege

Cover their faces with shame, O Lord, 
that they may seek your Name.


Photo by Mojtaba Mohtashami on Unsplash

It may be that, as we pray against the aggressor, we pray against ourselves. So be it.

It is the heart of God to reach the aggressor and those oppressed with a redemptive hand.

Toward the end of Psalm 83, the Psalmist is praying against oppressive aggressors, invaders, and tyrannical forces that tread and trespass on the rights of innocent people and, thus, become enemies of God.

"O my God, make them like whirling dust 
and like chaff before the wind;
Like fire that burns down a forest, 
like the flame that sets mountains ablaze.
Drive them with your tempest *
and terrify them with your storm;
Cover their faces with shame, O Lord, 
that they may seek your Name.
Let them be disgraced and terrified for ever; 
let them be put to confusion and perish.
Let them know that you, whose Name is Yahweh, 
you alone are the Most High over all the earth."

It makes me think - What good is it for them to be simply defeated if they do not sense the shame of their deeds or identify their defeat with their injustices perpetrated on people?

I reiterate:

"Cover their faces with shame, O Lord, *
that they may seek your Name."


Buried in the prayer for retributive justice is a redemptive plea.

Even the Psalmist, whose primary interest is his own people, has a hint of the heart of God for all the nations.

This  may be  a prayer  of retributive redemption or of redemptive retribution. It depends upon the need where the emphasis goes. The end is restoration.


Photo by Lerone Pieters on Unsplash

We can point our fingers at the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a modern example, and rightly so. We must stand with the the people under siege at any time of history. But most nations with power have exercised unjust power over less-empowered peoples throughout history.

An example pops up today:

On this day in 1968 – Vietnam War: My Lai Massacre occurs; between 347 and 500 Vietnamese villagers (men, women, and children) are killed by American troops.

Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson, Jr. played a major role in ending the Mỹ Lai Massacre and later testified against the war criminals responsible.

Healthy cultures and nations own their dark past and commit themselves to not repeating the same atrocities.

My lai masacre

Then, on this day in In 1190, Massacre of Jews at Clifford's Tower, York. 150 local Jews were killed in a pogrom in the castle keep; most of them committed suicide in order not to fall into the hands of the mob.

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What is our next move?

My tribe has a checkered history with forced conversions, violent power-grabbing, and militaristic exercise of religious dominance. To deny that is to deny history. To not care is to ignore scripture. We are flawed in our common humanity and sin with a lust for power that we are willing to exercise with violence and coercion.

Our religions, no matter how legitimate or illegitimate can be illegitimately co-opted as an excuse for that power-lust and every evil methodology we can muster to acquire what we want and think we deserve.

At the moment, the world is experiencing an extreme and frightening expression and demonstration of this. It is not the first in history and probably will not be the last.

Everyone has a different name for it and the names are debated, but it is all one thing throughout history.

There are political and military battles that shall be waged, but the most important battle is unseen; it is timeless; it is the most real. It is waged in the secret place of prayer, the public place of speaking truth in love, and the relational place of living the life of faith to which we have been called - to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.

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May I suggest a prayer of our lives in this regard?

May we pray it and live it all at the same time. May our intent be strong and our resolve solid.

May our hope exceed our expectation and may our expectation exceed our present reality.

Any prayer for  retributive redemption or of redemptive retribution, rooted in a prayer for restoration is amplified by our desire to become the embodiment of that prayer, which makes it a prayer for peace.

Cover their faces with shame, O Lord, 
that they may seek your Name.


Cover our faces with shame, O Lord, 
that we may seek your Name.