/ Jeffrey A Stivason

Living in Meshech & Kedar

The Psalms are an invitation to experience the Psalmist’s experience. That must be clarified. The Psalmist often provides us with just enough information so that we cannot locate the Psalm in any given geography or time in history. Yes, there are those Psalms that set us down by the streams of Babel or in the courts of Jerusalem’s temple but then there are those Psalms, like Psalm 120, which provide us with little to nothing by way of sitz im leben. They invite us into the experience of the Psalmist.

For example, in Psalm 120, is the Psalmist saying that he sojourns in Meshech (Asia Minor) and dwells in Kedar (North Arabia)? Well, it would be impossible to do both. So perhaps he has something else in mind.  Likely, he is describing his current location, unknown to the reader, as Meshech and Kedar to help the reader understand the religious and moral climate he is experiencing.  This latter idea is best.

The opening of the Psalm gives even more insight. The Psalmist is in distress. Why? Because he is surrounded by lying lips and deceitful tongues (v. 2). Apparently, Meshech was known for being a warring people and Kedar for belligerence. They were difficult people.  Most belligerent people are! Thus, he feels himself to be among enemies and treated as such in return.

Does that description invite you into the Psalmist’s experience? For me, it certainly does. An evening this past week, I watched President Biden tell the media gathered around him at an ice cream shop that the “economy is as strong as H--.”[1]What is more, the President tried to blame our inflation on other countries instead of acknowledging that his administration printed money like there was no tomorrow! This is not the first time Joe Biden has mislead the public. And these are not the only lies that have come from his administration. Remember how NBC News anchor Chuck Todd asked Vice President Harris, "We're going to have 2 million people cross this border for the first time ever. You're confident this border's secure?" Her answer? “We have a secure boarder.” These examples of the current administration propensity to lie are not isolated.  They could be multiplied endlessly.

What is more, the current administration is targeting their enemies with the DOJ and the FBI. Earlier this might have been met with skepticism or denounced as conspiratorial but how can anyone deny the charge today? Recently, pro-life demonstrators were arrested by the FBI in Tennessee.[2] What are they accused of doing?  The affidavit says they “used force and physical obstruction to injure, intimidate, and interfere with employees of the clinic and a patient who was seeking reproductive health services.”[3]  Did these people do what they are accused of doing?  Well, a livestream of the whole event is on the web.  You can see these people sitting and singing hymns and speaking gently about the love and forgiveness of Christ.[4]

In one scene a policeman led a woman through the halls to her “appointment.” One might argue that he was just doing his job and ensuring that the woman had safe passage through this group of quiet soft-spoken protestors, but would we give the Nazi’s the same pass? I seem to remember Adolf Eichmann giving the same “I was merely following orders” defense.  His plea for pardon was denied and he was promptly hanged.[5]

Furthermore, this protest is a far cry from the obvious violence done by Black Lives Matter and Antifa groups during the summer of the so-called pandemic, which is conveniently finished too. For example, during the Kenosha, Wisconsin riots Wolf Blitzer was interviewing a reporter on the ground when this statement scrolled across the bottom of the screen, “8PM Curfew Ordered After Violent Protests Over Police Shooting Of Unarmed Black Man In Wisconsin.” Within five seconds the word “violent” was removed.[1] Obviously “violent” did not fit the narrative though it certainly did fit the facts. Like our leaders, our media has taken up lying instead of reporting. Here in America, we are living in Meshech and Kedar and we must pray to be delivered from lying and deceitful lips.

The Psalmist has indeed put his finger on the problem.  Lies and deceit are not simply the hallmarks of a tyranny. They are the hallmarks of a people living under tyranny.  Those who study authoritarianism know that fear is not the primary motivating issue in such a state. Lies are.  The lies of the elite replicate themselves all the way down, which is why Solzhenitsyn committed himself to the statement, “Live not by lies.” He understood in Russia what we are just now learning in America.

Now, some might say that drawing your attention to these things is advocating for war.  I am not. I am for peace, like the Psalmist who said, “I am for peace.” However, when the Psalmist spoke, he discovered that “they are for war” (v. 7).  Why? The answer is simple.  They, those who lie for power, influence, and gain, hate the gospel of the Lord Jesus. It is that simple. What is more, this Psalm could and should be applied to the life of Christ. He, in his own country, was not received. Though he was in Jerusalem it was like he was sojourning in Meshech and dwelling in Kedar. He was for peace but surrounded by liars.  His peace is found in the truth of belief and repentance toward Him who is truth. And that is what our country needs today. It needs the peace of Christ through repentance and faith. It is that truth that we must continually affirm even in the face of opposition.

[1]All you have to do is google it.  This stuff is out there in abundance.

[2] https://www.justice.gov/usao-mdtn/pr/eleven-charged-face-act-violations-stemming-2021-blockade-mount-juliet-reproductive

[3] Ibid. Who would refer to an abortion clinic as offering “reproductive health services?  Another example of deceit.

[4] https://stream.connecttn.com/w/2ZTU9stc2nqGWLKirbxkgQWhether you can still access it is another matter. One protestor describes what they are doing as the historic Christian practice of indisposition.

[5]There was an interesting exchange between the protestors and a policeman who claimed to be a man of Christ.  Consider how he too enabled the killing of children. Will he be able to give the “I was just following orders” defense before the Almighty?  I don’t know how he would be able to make that defense in the face of Shiprah and Puah let alone Almighty God.

Jeffrey A Stivason

Jeffrey A Stivason

Jeffrey A Stivason (Ph.D. Westminster Theological Seminary) is a pastor (Grace RPC, graceingibsonia.org) and NT professor at RPTS in Pittsburgh, PA. He is also editor at placefortruth.com.

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