What Reliance on People Ultimately Accomplishes

Pentecost 20 Monday

Psalm 62:3

“How long do all of you hunt a man to kill him, when he has become a leaning wall and crushed fence?”

David experienced that those who flatter the mighty are very skilled. While the king’s favor rested on David, there was nothing more glorious than David; everybody wanted to be David’s friend and loved him. Yet their heart thought: “Let the devil take you away right now so that I might take your place and become the king’s favorite.” But when the king became David’s enemy, their thoughts came to the fore. Then everybody courted the king and wanted to do the worst to David. No one was lazy; they all wanted to kill him with their own hands. They talked about him at court (especially when the king or his flatterers were within earshot): “Oh that that knave would be struck by the plague, madness, and all
curses!” David summarizes this experience by saying: “How long do all of you hunt a man and want to help to kill him?” He means to say: “How much you cling to a man, and despise God, that you are prepared to kill for this man’s sake and pursue this goal by day and night! Yet it is easy for you now because I am now a leaning wall and a crushed fence.” For a wall and fence that lean to the ground are quickly destroyed altogether. Therefore, when a prince, a lord, or a big shot leans on a man, the wall and the fence lean. Then the money chasers come out and think that their hour has come to let out their anger on him and show their courage: They shove him to the ground while they should rather help him up to support the fence and prop up the wall. This is what it means to pull at a dead lion’s mane which they would not have been allowed to touch while the lion was alive. Accordingly, those who helped oppress David while Saul was his enemy had to bow before David while he was in the king’s favor. Yet the world does not act differently; you can take that to the bank. Christ himself had to have one who would help to bring him down when he was sought to be killed by the Jews (namely, Judas who betrayed him), as he says in Psalm 41:9: “He who eats my bread helps to kick me.” This is how it goes and must go, both in church and state: the valiant heroes beat up on the dead lion, but cannot fend off a dog that is alive. This is what reliance on people accomplishes.

St. Louis ed., 5:27-28.

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