The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion, saying,
“Rule in the midst of your enemies!”
Your troops will be willing
on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy splendor,
your young men will come to you
like dew from the morning’s womb. Psalm 110 (NIV 2010)
Last night a collection of the Broad and Washington men got together for their somewhat random public meeting. I was encouraged to see their sincerity. In many sectors, men have a bad reputation: callow, dominating, selfish, unreliable, even unnecessary. Look at many sitcoms and men are represented in such an unflattering light that one wonders if they have any dignity left at all. But the men gathered last night belied such stereotyping. They had some stuff.
Psalm 110, a “royal” psalm extolling the virtues of King David and all kings that follow in his footsteps, includes characteristics one would hope for every God-lover, woman or man. But today, I feel like building up the men, who are under attack, in some ways, these days, and who need to bring what men bring to their families, their congregations and their friendships. The mission is healthy when the men have faith and share it.
So here are four things I see in this psalm for the men to put on.
Being aware of the enemies. Gwen gave me a little snippet from the research the other day that explained why female babies (like Lulu!) are much more likely to give us eye contact than their brothers. The boys have an instinct for looking at the horizon and scanning the territory for enemies. Or they are looking for antelopes for dinner. I don’t know if this is true. But the body of Christ certainly could use some awareness of the territory and some decent hunting.
Putting on holy array. “To be arrayed in holy splendor” probably seems kind of a crazy image to many men. They are arrayed in the same sweatshirt for six years (as I am as I write in my 2004 Eagles NFC champs sweatshirt). Black, drab nondescript, anonymous clothes are what sell year after year. It is almost like we’ve gone Confucian: “the tallest stalk of grain gets the overseers riding crop.” It takes some audacity to aspire to holiness and wear it shamelessly, without being proud, just being real.
Coming from the womb of the dawn. There is never any hint in the Bible that men don’t need women, or vice-versa. Coming from a womb is a good thing. The “womb of the dawn” is a beautiful image of creativity and eternity. The workmen are downstairs right now having their version of giving birth in my second floor bathroom (which finally got to the top of the rehab schedule after 15 years of gestation). The plumber was very excited last week to reveal the faucet he had ordered! He loves the restoration he is effecting. When the men are excited to create, holiness breaks out.
Bringing the dew of their youth. In a dry land like Israel, dew is a crucial source of water. In a dry spiritual landscape like the Northeast U.S. the God-generated youthfulness of spiritual awareness is what the men need to bring. When we go to battle against the powers that seek to enslave us, the Holy Spirit undermines their tired old lies and clumsy tactics with the ever-newness of living water. The young in years bring it physically with their courage. The old in years bring it with their character and wisdom. Together they are a transformative tribe.
Psalm 110 is a splendidly uncynical picture of hope in a new king, a picture of God’s fecundity in a dangerous world. I pray that all men (and women of course, but today is focused on the guys) would take on their birthright as sons of God, not giving in to the diminution of their dignity that the world is foisting upon them.