Wednesday, March 30, 2011

David's Doglike Foes

They come at night, snarling like vicious dogs as they prowl the streets. Psalms 59:6 NLT

Most people who live in the West today have little appreciation for the role of the numerous wild dogs of an ancient Eastern city. For us, dogs are usually pets–or at least guard dogs that patrol are but are not allowed to roam wild. It was not like that in the East.

Occasionally people may have had small dogs as pets. Jesus’ words to the Canaanite woman seem to imply this: "It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs" (Matt. 15:26).

But generally the dogs of an Eastern city were wild scavengers that roamed in packs, particularly at night when they searched the streets and alleys for garbage or other food that may have been discarded by the citizens. [A] nineteenth-century writer, [Charles Spurgeon] describes what it was like during a visit he made to Constantinople:

The whole city rang with one vast riot....The yelping, howling, barking, growling, and snarling were all merged into one uniform and continuous even sound, as the noise of frogs becomes when heard at a distance. For hours there was no lull. I went to sleep and woke again, and still, with my windows open, I heard the same tumult going on; nor was it until daybreak that anything like tranquility was restored.

I imagine as I read this that, having lived in a major Western city for twenty-seven years, I would probably not have found the noise of the dogs as overwhelming as that. This Englishman was probably raised in an English village or on the downs.

Still, it gives us an idea of what such packs of dogs were like and how aptly David applies the image to the soldiers who were prowling about his village seeking to kill him. Should he be afraid of these “dogs”? Hardly, since the Lord his God was laughing at them. These vile creatures are no threat to God; and if they are no threat to God, they are no threat to the one protected by him.

The idea of God laughing at his foes takes us back to Psalm 2:4 (“The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them”) and Psalm 37:13 (“The Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming”).

(Boice, James Montgomery. 1995. Hearing God When You Hurt. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books., pgs 113-114 [Psalm 59:6])

1 comment:

  1. Good point. The wicked seem to get away with so much--but their day of reckoning is coming. This knowledge brings feelings of peace in bad times.