“Blessed is the man you discipline, O Lord, the man you teach from your law; you grant him relief from days of trouble, till a pit is dug for the wicked. For the Lord will not reject his people; he will never forsake his inheritance. Judgment will again be founded on righteousness, and all the upright in heart will follow it.” (Reference: Psalms 94:12-15 )
Those of you who have just started following this blog this year may not be familiar with my high regard for Albert Barnes, a biblical scholar and commentator from the middle 1800’s. While he wrote well over a hundred years ago, his comments can be very relevant to today’s society. Of this passage he said, “Until the wicked be punished; that is, while the preparations are going on, or while God seems to delay punishment, and the wicked are suffered to live as if God did not notice them, or would not punish them. The idea is, that the mind should not be impatient as if their punishment would not come, or as if God were unconcerned; and that just views of the divine administration would tend to make the mind calm even when the wicked “seemed” to prosper and triumph. . . The phrase “until the pit be digged” is derived from the method of hunting wild beasts by digging a pit into which they might fall and be taken.“
This piece of mind seems to be something that the historic Anabaptists had in abundance. Endres Keller, 1563, wrote after his fierce torture on the rack, “I know that God will never leave me if I suffer for the sake of his Word. For I well know that the devil accuses me very much before you, which I have learned with much pain. May God forgive you this, and all the dear people who have so falsely accused me before you . . . Therefore, dear sirs, you will find nothing in me except patience in words and deeds.” In all the excerpts that I have read from what the historic Anabaptists have written, I have never heard then rail or denigrate their accusers. Accused them of not correct believe or mistaken in their claims, but never verbally abusing them etc. Now, when it came to fellow believers who differed on important points, they had harsh words for them! But it seemed that they had patience for God to deal with the truly “wicked.”
And using Barnes’ explanation of the pit that is dug to trap the wicked seems to be a good explanation of the historic Anabaptists using scripture to debate with their accusers in order to show them the error of their thinking. Would that we could leave punishment to the Lord and set “traps” only to bring extreme and violent dissenters back into harmony with the rest of humanity. This is one of the goals and dreams of modern Anabaptists/Mennonites, that violence and war would be no more and we would participate only in discussions that bring enlightenment and mutual understanding.
May you beloved have patience while the rest of the world seems to pull itself apart, and may you emerge whole and unharmed. Selah!
P. S. This theme of patience and discipline is a good theme for this the fourth Sunday of Lent. This is the heart of Lent – waiting patiently on God and learning more deeply how to follow and love God. A reader has asked for clarification as to how/if Lent is based on practices from the bible. It is not from historical practices during time that the bible was written, but Lenten practices are based on scriptural understandings and a desire to set aside time before Easter to think and ponder on Christ’s life, ministry, and then on his death and resurrection. Shalom!