If God addressed you, what would God say? The Psalmist presents the divine voice proclaiming that God is a fair judge, and adding, “I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not raise up the horn.’” The verses that follow comment on this “revelation.” This description of God’s speech is akin to an exercise that I employ in teaching prayer. I invite people to write a letter to God, which enables honest self-expression. I then ask that they respond to their letter as if God was answering, an act of divine empathy. The words back are clearly filtered through the writer, but usually contain a higher perspective and draw from core values more so than day-to-day thought. This is not the only Psalm that presents “the voice of God.” In each case, the material in quotes warrants close examination.
God’s message is for the arrogant to be aware of God’s judgment. The classic Jewish commentators identify the ram-like horn with pride and potential aggression. Those same sages (Radak and Sforno) identify the problem as a hubris that for some accompanies wealth and status. In reading a Psalm, there is an artful dimension. To emphasize the theme, for instance, the word “raise” appears six times and “horn” four times. As a modern reader of such an ancient spiritual poem, we are invited to explore the poem’s artful weave and to ask how the thoughts are relevant for our lives.