I will now arise

In an infamous 1949 show trial, Cardinal Jozsef Mindzsenty of Hungary, after being interrogated and tortured, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Communist regime.  But in 1956, during the Hungarian revolution, he was freed.  But that freedom was short-lived.  When the Soviets invaded he took refuge in the American Embassy where he would live for 15 years before finally being granted freedom – to live in exile.  In his memoirs he quotes from Psalm 12:  ‘Our lips are with us; who is our master,’ alluding to his persecutors.  But he also quoted verses 5-6:  ‘Now…I will arise’ says God to those who oppress.

The psalm reminds us that disloyalty to God’s covenant is not so much the way in which we respond to God but rather how we behave towards our neighbour.  The wicked speak and act arrogantly, believing God does not see or care.

But, just as their speech reveals their character, so the Divine speech (vs.5-6) reveals God’s character.   God cares!  The Biblical record is a story of God’s active involvement in caring: the liberation of a motley group of slaves from Egyptian slavery; the liberation of Jewish exiles from the Babylonian empire; the liberation of the world in the form of a vulnerable baby born in a backwater town of the Roman empire.  God says, ‘I will arise!’   

The psalmist’s confidence is rooted in the trustworthiness of God:  ‘The promises of God are promises that are pure…purified seven times.’   In the Bible seven is the number of perfection.  God can be counted on.

But the psalmist is also a realist.  The prayer ends with the acknowledgement that the wicked still prowl.  Wars and injustice still afflict us.  Like the psalmist we pray and long for the full realization of the kingdom.  A good word for this Advent season of work, waiting, and expectation.