This Psalm of David again puts the emphasis on treasures in Heaven but asks for God’s help on earth. The title is the final line and reveals that David hopes for an eternal resurrection with God even though he was besieged by wicked people when he wrote this Psalm.
In the first set of verses David asked God to hear his prayer for help. He progressed to vindicate himself before God by saying that he has not sinned in word and has focused on God alone.
Verse 4 contains a line that I question:
“I have kept myself from the ways of the violent.”
David was a warrior, I would classify this as a violent career. He was also a warrior king. Was David differentiating between fighting under God and random wicked violence? It is the only conclusion that fits this Psalm. Perhaps David would have argued that God had given him the job to do which entailed fighting for His name and he did that – nothing more but nothing less. In this way it meant that his violence was vindicated by God because he only followed God’s instructions.
It is just a small fragment of a verse but I can see how this combined with the doctrine of Holy War allowed leaders and bigots over the centuries to justify violence in God’s name – saying that if it was in God’s name it wasn’t really violence.
It could easily be a translation issue – in my study bible it has “evil” in the margin against “violence”. The Message has an interesting take on the entire verse:
“I’m not trying to get my way in the world’s way.
I’m trying to get your way, your Word’s way.”
Violence is not mentioned but the focus is on God’s way rather than men’s way. I wonder what the translation that inspired the Crusades said?