Strife in the household. It’s an ugly thing to behold. It’s draining. It’s disheartening. It embitters the sweetness of our daily lives.
Prayer for Deliverance from the Treacherous.
A Song of Ascents.
1 In my trouble I cried to the Lord,
And He answered me.
2 Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips,
From a deceitful tongue.
3 What shall be given to you, and what more shall be done to you,
You deceitful tongue?
4 Sharp arrows of the warrior,
With the burning coals of the broom tree.
5 Woe is me, for I sojourn in Meshech,
For I dwell among the tents of Kedar!
6 Too long has my soul had its dwelling
With those who hate peace.
7 I am for peace, but when I speak,
They are for war.
— Psalm 120 (NASB)
A turbulent house is a curse upon its occupants. No one wins. But not all domestic wars are mano-y-mano. If the house divided against itself cannot stand, what of the heart divided against itself?
What if the lying lips and deceitful tongue are our own? What if the relentless arrows were fired from our very own strings?
Even the regenerate heart bears the scars of Sin. Our record is expunged — but our inclination to sin is tenacious. We want the good things: peace, unity, love, right standing before God. So why do we undermine our own longings with the careless — or perhaps not-so-careless — slings and arrows of selfishness, greed, spite, and envy?
How did we end up in the land of Mesech, dwelling in the tents of Kedar?
Mesech was the son of Noah’s son, Japheth. The people of Mesech settled in the areas of Asia Minor, Greece, and the Caucasus. They were known as merchants, trading in “vessels of brass” and, significantly, slaves. Perhaps a “sojourn in Mesech” is the Psalmist’s shorthand for enslavement, much as “the plantation” has become synonymous with slavery.
As for Kedar, he was the second son of Ishmael. The rivalry between Ishmael and his half-brother Isaac (Israel) over their standing with Abraham was the genesis of a conflict between their descendants that persists even today. For an Israelite to “dwell among the tents of Kedar” was to live — literally — in the company of his most ancient foe.
How do we find ourselves living in the enemy’s camp, enslaved and surrounded? I bet it didn’t start out that way. Slavery has a way of creeping up on us, in little fits and starts. We tolerate a little bondage here and there. Over time, that tolerance adds a link or two to the chain every day. By the time we awake to the gravity of our situation, we may be too wrapped up in our chains to escape.
We invited the slavers into our hearts and assumed we could show them the door any time.
To His immaculate praise, the Deliverer is near. In our trouble, we cry out to Him. For freedom. For peace. For the rescue of our souls.
Through Him, we can sever the chains which entangle us. By His skill, we can rebuild lives long enslaved. In Him alone, our souls find the dwelling place of peace.