Saturday, March 30

Powerful Definition of Hell

Rise up, O Lord, confront them, overthrow them! By your sword deliver my life from the wicked,
from mortals—by your hand, O Lord—from mortals whose portion in life is in this world. May their bellies be filled with what you have stored up for them; may their children have more than enough; may they leave something over to their little ones.
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.
Ps. 17:13-15 

This morning's portion of the psalter is probably not about heaven and hell. But it could be. And if it is, then heaven sounds peaceful and glorious. After going to sleep in death, the psalmist's desire is simply to awake and see God.

But what a strange and powerful definition of hell is here portrayed. The psalmist prays for those whose portion is in this world. It's not really much of a stretch to imagine that the prayer is that the worldly will have all their own prayers answered, and that their dreams will come true—that everything on the store shelves will be theirs. That inheritance laws will so favor their heirs that nothing will ever be taxed and that all that is left over will pass from one generation to the next.

Since the sword of God is figurative, perhaps God's secret weapon is merchandise or money. That is the sword that will overthrow the wicked. For in the New Testament, is not a sword the symbol of discernment—of dividing right from wrong, truth from falsehood? What better demonstration of this divvying up than to find out what a person's priorities are in this life. If the side of the sword I fall on is the one that favors consumer goods and inheritance taxes that favor the rich, then I need to re-order my life.

That my portion may be to awake and behold your likeness, Lord, deliver me from the curse of greed; in the Name of the One who taught me to pray...

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