I have 4 children at camp and the rest have been with me while my wife is visiting with family. My quiet time, such as it is, is to be found in the long walks I take the dog on in the mornings and evenings. This small town is a very quiet one, with comfortable breezes and challenging hills and hillocks.
As an aficionado of audiobooks, I usually make my way for the back door with smartphone in hand as I push earphones into my ears, waste bags into my pockets, and the dog out the door. In order to make the time productive, I start my walks with the Psalter. Three to four Psalms are the norm, but sometimes a line or two will pique my interest so that I rewind over and over again.
The below Psalm 63 seemed a fitting thing to read in times when the pains of gossip have descended on you or those you care for. The archery image was what drew my interest.
deliver my soul from fear of the enemy.
Protect me from the swarm of evildoers,
from the multitude who practice wrongdoing,
who sharpen their tongues like a sword,
who bend their bow to shoot a bitter word
at a blameless person in secret.
They will suddenly shoot him
and will not be afraid.
They strengthen themselves in an evil purpose;
they talk of hiding traps.
They say, “Who will see them?”
They searched for lawlessness,
they failed in their search.
A man will come whose heart is deep
and God will be exalted.
Their blows became like a child’s arrow,
and their tongues were weakened against them.
All who saw them were troubled and everyone was afraid.
Then they declared the works of God and understood His actions.
The righteous will rejoice in the Lord
and will hope in Him,
and all who are upright in heart will be praised.
Similar imagery exists in Psalm 10, which gets at the same idea.
How will you say to my soul,
“Fly away1 like a bird to the mountains.”
For, look, the sinners bend their bow,
they have arrows ready in the quiver
to shoot down in darkness the upright in heart.
They pull down what You build up;
but what has the righteous man done?
The Lord is in His holy temple,
the Lord whose throne is in heaven,
whose eyes regard the poor,
whose eyelids test the sons of men.
The Lord tests the just and the godless,
but one who loves wrongdoing hates his own soul.
6. The Lord will rain snares on sinners:
fire and brimstone and a hurricane blast
will be the portion of their cup.
7. For the Lord is just and loves justice;
His face sees truthfulness.