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  • Writer's pictureThe Bald Believer

A Psalm about the Captive and the Captor

A Devotional From Psalm 129

A Song of degrees.

1  Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth,

May Israel now say:

2  Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth:

Yet they have not prevailed against me.

3  The plowers plowed upon my back:

They made long their furrows.

4  The Lord is righteous:

He hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked.

5  Let them all be confounded and turned back

That hate Zion.

6  Let them be as the grass upon the housetops,

Which withereth afore it groweth up:

7  Wherewith the mower filleth not his hand;

Nor he that bindeth sheaves his bosom.

8  Neither do they which go by say,

The blessing of the Lord be upon you:

We bless you in the name of the Lord. (Psalm 129:1–8)

In the first half of today’s reading the Psalmist recounts the history of Israel. It is a history marked by repeated deliverance from oppression. The abuse of the slave masters can be seen in verse 3 as their whips and rods make deep rows down the backs of the oppressed like a plowed field.

While these verses are about Israel, they are of course providing a lesson for us today.

We may not be in bondage to a cruel slave master that can be seen, we may not be bound in iron chains but that does not mean that we are not in bondage. As I look around, I see hurting people shackled to their sins and slaves to their desires. The scars left by these cruel masters are not always seen by the physical eye but they are there and they are deep. Addiction is the cord that keeps us captive as the sin, it’s shame, and the eventual outcome do great damage.

There is hope!

The Lord cuts the cords that binds and delivers those in bondage in verse 4.

Psalm 129:4
The Lord is righteous:
He hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked.

The Lord still cuts the cords that bind and sets the captives free. He did it for Israel many times in her long history and he will do it for you today!

In the second half, the Psalmist changes his focus from the oppressed to the oppressor. He prays for God to confound the minds of those that plot evil plans against God’s people. He prays for the Lord to make their efforts as fruitless as dead grass. He even prays that nobody wish them blessed. Some may look at this portion of the Psalm with critical eyes but I ask, why would you want someone to be blessed in doing wrong? Why would you wish success on someone whose planned path leads to the hurt of others and their own eventual destruction? As usual, Spurgeon said it best in his commentary on the Psalms. I will close with his words.

“It is but justice that those who hate, harass, and hurt the good should be brought to naught. Those who confound right and wrong ought to be confounded, and those who turn back from God ought to be turned back. Loyal subjects wish ill to those who plot against their king.
... We desire their welfare as men, their downfall as traitors. Let their conspiracies be confounded, their policies be turned back. How can we wish prosperity to those who would destroy that which is dearest to our hearts? This present age is so flippant that if a man loves the Saviour he is styled a fanatic, and if he hates the powers of evil he is named a bigot…Besides, the church of God is so useful, so beautiful, so innocent of harm, so fraught with good, that those who do her wrong are wronging all mankind and deserve to be treated as the enemies of the human race. Study a chapter from the “Book of Martyrs,” and see if you do not feel inclined to read an imprecatory Psalm over Bishop Bonner and Bloody Mary. It may be that some wretched… sentimentalist will blame you: if so, read another over him.
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