The ten-year anniversary of September 11th is not the day to be partisan. Both Presidents Bush and Obama are sharing the stage at Ground Zero. But I do worry about the message the current president sends in the choice of the psalm he read today. Psalm 46 contains these lines:
Come, behold the works of the Lord,
Who has made desolations in the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
As I read that wonderful psalm in its present context, I infer an end to having enemies and an end to war. Indeed, the Lord is the actor behind the “desolations of the earth.” But September 11th was a man-made event, perpetuated by men hostile to civilization, hostile to us, and the war on terrorism that keeps us safe is far from over. There are other psalms that might be read on this day that better express the memory of that wicked act and that bid defiance to our enemies—enemies who show no sign of relenting.
From Psalm 3:
Arise, O Lord;
Save me, O my God!
For You have struck all my enemies on the cheekbone;
You have broken the teeth of the ungodly.
Salvation belongs to the Lord.
Your blessing is upon Your people.
From Psalm 9:
When my enemies turn back,
They shall fall and perish at Your presence.
For You have maintained my right and my cause;
You sat on the throne judging righteousness.
You have rebuked the nations.
You have destroyed the wicked;
You have blotted out their name forever and ever.
Which sort of psalm—the pacific or the warlike—does more justice to the memory of the victims of September 11th and to the men and women who have fought to keep our nation safe since then?