Trapped in the Schemes They Have Devised

 

Carl Jung

Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961)

Over the years I’ve had a problem with the “us versus them” voice of some psalms of the Book of Psalms. The division of humankind into the ‘righteous’ and the ‘wicked’ leaves me cold. Often I have wanted to recommend to the psalmist a session or two on a Jungian analyst’s couch to get in touch with the ‘shadow’. But, in other times, like the one through which we’re living in America, the psalmist’s poetry is without parallel in giving voice to what I feel. Psalm 10 is one of them.

Psalm 10 is a cry for help in a time of trouble when God seems far off, as though hiding, while “the wicked arrogantly persecute the poor” (v.1), but it also holds a conviction that the persecution is only for the moment. Why? Because, already, the arrogant “are trapped in the schemes they have devised” (verse 2).

Their ways are devious at all times; 

Your judgments are far above out of their sight; 

they defy all their enemies.

They say in their heart, “I shall not be shaken;

no harm shall come to me ever” (v.5).

….

Their mouth is full of cursing, deceit, and oppression;

under their tongue are mischief and wrong (v. 7).

…. 

They lurk in ambush in public squares

and in secret places they murder the innocent;

they spy out the helpless. 

They lie in wait, like a lion in a covert,

they lie in wait to seize upon the lowly

they seize the lowly and drag them away in their net.

The innocent are broken and humbled before them;

the helpless fall before their power (vs. 7-9).

Sometimes the most poignant insights come from the psalmist’s couch. I read the Psalms most every day. I still remember what I’ve learned from Jung about my ‘shadow’ and the fear within me that paints ‘the other’ as wicked, wrong, or wretched. I know that the finger that accuses others often points back at my own sorry self. But the faith I was taught and still practice equally reminds me that anger has a rightful place when the lowly are broken, humbled, and dragged away in the net of the powerful. I remember the ‘righteous’ anger of Amos and the rest of the prophets. I remember Jesus.

Elijah in high chair

Grandson Elijah safe at home.

I see my grandson, Elijah, safe at home with his family in Minnesota, and think of all the children wrenched from their parents arms at the Mexican border. I live in hope that, though innocent children have been carried away to unknown places by the Administration’s net, it is only a matter of time before those who have made them orphans are themselves “trapped in the schemes they have devised.”

– Gordon C. Stewart in the wilderness, August 29, 2018.

4 thoughts on “Trapped in the Schemes They Have Devised

  1. I have a great longing for belief, yet all I keep thinking when awful things happen continue is “Where are you, God? How can you let this occur?” My mother was of the same mind. She said she was an atheist, but I think she was angry with God for failing “his people.” For failing humanity. For creating us, then allowing us to be pounded into bone dust and never show His face.

    By whose will do we fail? Do we fail because we are too weak? Or do we fail in the face of evil so immense we cannot confront, much less master it?

    Karma is complicated. When we give something and expect somehow, we will be repaid, perhaps we have already been “paid in advance” and what we give is actually a repayment. Does God keep score that way too? So that the good and evil we did in the past comes back in our future?

    We were watching Jim Jeffries last night and he is an upfront atheist — as my mother was. It made Garry think about it.

    I have no answers. I do not know if the wicked are getting snagged in their own evil — or not. Each time I think they simply cannot ignore this horrific thing that was done, somehow, they get free of it, laughing. Only we seem to be snagged.

    WHY?

    Like

    • Dear Marilyn,

      You ask the question that has vexed humankind since the dawn of time and will continue to puzzle us forever. Given the evidence of suffering and inexplicable horror, atheism is a serious option. But atheism doesn’t solve the problem, does it?

      The guy who owns the local coffee shop enjoys pulling my chain. He calls me Rev whenever I walk into his Dunn Brothers. One day he asked how I could believe in God, and, if I believed God created the world, “Where God come from?” I replied that his question itself begged the God question. Whatever was there at the beginning, if there was a beginning — not matter what it was — is the Creator.

      One of the moments from last weekend’s wedding in Boston was a conversation with a Holocaust survivor who escaped Auschwitz with his mother after his father (who died there) arranged for their escape and for them to be protected by a Polish family. He won his yarmulke to the wedding, as did other uncles of the groom. To believe after the Holocaust is an extraordinary act of courage or stupidity. I prefer to believe it’s an act of courage.

      Thank you for sharing, Marilyn. So glad for the gift of friendship with you and Garry!

      Like

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