You know you’ve been watching too much Buffy the Vampire Slayer when every time you read the Bible you think of a vampire simile to back it up. However, on this occasion, I think it works appropriately.
In this song David is imploring God to fortify him against the temptations of the world, to
lead me in Your righteousness because of my adversaries.
What is it that his adversaries are doing that is causing David such distress? It appears that they are making promises of some description, maybe even scheming:
For there is nothing reliable in what they say; destruction is within them; their throat is an open grave; the flatter their tongues. Punish them, God; let them fall by their own schemes.
Now I have little other than an educated guess to back this up, but having recently completed reading Joshua and concurrently reading Hosea it doesn’t seem like a large tangental link to suggest that David is struggling with the geo-political power-plays in the region. Indeed this seems to be an ongoing thorn for Israel, trusting in the might of God as opposed to the might of neighboring nations.
Unlike the leaders in Hosea’s time, who God likens to unfaithful wives fleeing to another’s bed, David is yearning to remain stoic in God’s provision. He is begging to be surrounded “with favour like a shield”. The two driving reasons are clear: he sees the corruption of the world for what it is and, he recognises and hopes for the shelter God can provide his people.
This is where the Buffy analogy comes in!
I’ve been trying to think of a good way to describe culture, to explore its attractive veneer and dangerous underbelly. To this extent I think culture is a vampire. It once was a man, it once was alive and walking according to God’s approval. However, upon death, it arose.
From the outside it looks the same, it has the same face and defined features. However this exterior is a shell. For it no longer desires and serves God’s ways, what is good. Rather it rebels against God and desires “bloodshed and treachery”.
The targets to support this theory are varied and interesting. Having just watched Margin Call it’d be altogether to easy to run the “blood-sucking” theme into the culture of self-interested finance. However there are more pervasive cultural forces at play. Consider consumerism, the maxim that suggests that ‘stuff’ will make us happy. We watch ad after ad espousing the social benefits of their product. Case in point: have you ever seen a coke ad that doesn’t focus on the relationship building aspect of its product. There are either Arctic bears sharing a family moment, young adults jumping into the ocean whilst ‘opening a little bit of happiness today’, or names on bottles to remind us precisely whom we should be sharing our coke with!
Yet, how many of us actually feel that sense of social inclusion whilst downing the bubbly? I don’t know about you, my drinking an extra coke actually makes me feel less inclined to take off my shirt and strut around in boardies. Perhaps that’s because my personal 6-pack seems more like a keg…
Herein lies a perfect example of:
their throat is an open grave
The resolution of our desire for community is not sought in God but in a bottle of liquid.
If this example hasn’t proven illustrative then try the following little test: What was the main present that you got for Christmas last year? Can you remember it? Great, now how about the year before? What about the present you got 4 years ago? Or when you were 21?
Why is it that products that we were sooo excited about yesteryear are probably gathering dust or landfill this year? Could it be that they “flatter with their tongues” and after time we realise that we don’t feel the way they promise?
Just like David, we too are surrounded by potential allies in this world who offer everything. Yet we need to remember that “there is nothing reliable in what they say”. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t easy pressing the mute button on the world’s screams. However, I think we get a strong role-model in David’s prayer right here.