Praying Against The Powerful (P&P)

April 14, 2024 | Prayer & Praise Worship Services

Rev Ian Lee
Praying Against The Powerful (P&P)

April 14, 2024 | Prayer & Praise Worship Services

Rev Ian Lee
Scripture Passage: Psalm 9 & 10 (NIV)

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Summary l Navigating power dynamics at work can be challenging.  It’s not solely about the tasks but also the people involved – whether they’re our superiors or subordinates.  Dealing with an unreasonable or unethical boss can be particularly demanding.  Psalms 9 and 10 offer insight into this struggle, with Psalm 10 serving as a companion piece to Psalm 9.  While Psalm 9 is a foundational confession, Psalm 10 intensifies the tension, expressing frustration and railing against God. 

1. There are two parties involved (those above and below us)

In modern church settings, there’s a noticeable absence of lament alongside praise.  Psalm 9 and 10 shed light on this, expressing the grievances of the powerless against the powerful. These psalms serve not only as lament but also as a prompt for those in positions of power to consider how they’re perceived.  

Psalm 10 vividly depicts negative power dynamics: the helpless are oppressed, while the wicked disregard any higher authority.  Psalm 9 reveals the irony of the belief of the wicked in their own supremacy, contrasted with God’s ultimate judgment.  Psalm 9 also intensifies the tension, showing the eventual downfall of the powerful.  

This cry for justice reflects an upside-down kingdom, where the elevated are humbled and the oppressed are lifted up.  By listening to the lament of the powerless, we can foster change.  These psalms confront us with the reality of power dynamics and the need for change, as interpreted by the poet Malcom Guite in his work “David’s Crown.”

2. There are two realities (what will be forgotten and what will endure)

Psalm 9 and 10 intricately weave together the realities of our fallen world with the enduring sovereignty of God.  In these psalms, the tension between the oppressed and the wicked is palpable.

We’re confronted with the question: in a world where injustice seems to triumph, where does God stand? Psalm 10 cries out, wondering why God seems distant in times of trouble.  Yet, Psalm 9 reassures us that the Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

The twin realities of what is forgotten and what endures are starkly contrasted.  The wicked boast that God has forgotten, but Psalm 9 reminds us that God never forgets the cry of the afflicted.  While the wicked may seek to erase the memory of the needy, God will not forget them. Ultimately, the wicked will be forgotten, while the needy will endure.

The distinction between the wicked and the oppressed is clear. The wicked are characterized by cursing, treachery, and self-focus, while the oppressed cry out to God in praise and lament. The victim does not seek revenge but leaves justice in God’s hands.

Psalm 9 and 10 remind us of our humanity in the face of power. We’re reminded that God alone reigns sovereign, and all earthly power will fade away. All earthly powers will be forgotten, but God’s Kingdom alone endures forever.

The thin line between the powerless and powerful is illustrated in the history of Israel. At times, Israel found themselves as powerless victims, seeking release from the tyranny of regimes like Pharaoh’s. Yet, after their establishment as a monarchy, they too preyed on the powerless. Israel’s story reflects our own: we’ve been both the powerless victim and the powerful oppressor. It’s a reminder that power corrupts, and all of us have the potential to abuse it.

Recognising our mortal human limitations, we must fear the Lord and acknowledge that there are ultimately two kinds of persons: those who cry out to God and those who think they are gods. In this recognition, we confront the reality of our own vulnerability to abusing power and the need to humble ourselves before the Almighty. Have we allowed the cries of the powerless to pierce our hearts today? God’s Kingdom will outlast all earthly kingdoms. All injustice will not last, and only God will reign sovereign.

(Sermon notes by Alex Choe)


Read Psalms 9 and 10.

  1. Who do you identify with more? The Powerless or the Powerful?
  2. Which reality is more real to you? The present reign of human beings or God’s eternal reign?
  3. How does the denial of God’s existence and one’s own mortality contribute to human oppression?
  4. How does it help to know that God stands as the final judge if you are currently facing oppression?
  5. How would it make you feel if you heard these words prayed by your subordinate/ employee?

To close the discussion, read Matt 5:2-12 together.

Wesley Communications Team
Posted by Wesley Communications Team

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