Psalm 109:22: For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.
If you are anything like me, while reading a verse, sometimes I stop and say, “wait, what?” Did David, the King of Israel, say he was poor and needy? We are not talking about Peter Pan here, the king of Never-Neverland. We are talking about a king who was loaded, so what does this phrase mean?
We have entered into the ten days of awe between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur. These ten days is a time of introspection and personal evaluation. Judaism guides us through seven annual Feast days to encourage us to cleanse our hearts so we can walk face to face with God and humans. We take this time to think about any grudges we hold against others and remember if others have offenses against us. We then ask for forgiveness and attempt to reconcile. This process is waaaaay easier said than done. Sometimes, taking up space and saying, “hey man, you hurt my feelings,” can seem impossible.
Leviticus 19:17: You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall rebuke (tell them when they have hurt you) your neighbor and not bear sin because of him. You shall not take vengeance nor bear a grudge against the children of thy people. But you shall love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.
Ok, so no grudges, no hating someone in your heart, and no retaliation. Listen, this is not even talking about verbalizing hatred! It is talking about keeping feelings hidden in our hearts. We are supposed to go to a person and communicate hurt feelings.
Matthew 5:23-24: Therefore, if you bring your gift (offering/sacrifice) to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you. Leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
These verses make offenses a two-party dance. It is the responsibility of the offended to value a relationship enough to say, “I am hurt.” The offender must now attempt to reconcile before bringing any “I’m sorry” or peace offering to God. It transfers back to the offended person’s court when forgiveness is required. So many people get stuck at this step because we have a false idea that forgiveness allows repeated toxic behavior or involves reconciliation. Forgiveness is simply empathy, and mercy, whether deserved or not, with an apology or not, for a hurt that was intentional or not, it is saying, “I understand that humans mess up. I choose to release you from any emotional debt.” This internal conversation could be the hardest thing in the universe to have, but it is also one of the essential things our faith teaches us. Going back to the verse I wrote at the beginning, let us see what precedes it;
Psalm 109:16: Because he did not remember to show mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, that he might even slay the broken in heart.
When someone is brokenhearted due to a mistake, and we withhold mercy from them, the scriptures liken it to not feeding the poor and needy. Imagine someone begging on the street corner steeped in embarrassment and shame, with a sign that says they are hungry and you have food/water in your car. Could you imagine turning a blind eye? We are required to feed the poor and needy with mercy and forgiveness. God is merciful. He desires mercy in us. God is love and desires for us to be loving. God forgives and asks us to forgive. God never requires something of us that He does not first manifest.
I pray for peace for you and me. I pray for forgiveness from those I have hurt and the courage to give it. I pray for mended hearts and mended relationships in all of our seasons. Life is all about relationships that are full of “I’m sorries,” “I forgive yous,” and “I love yous.” Shabbat Shuvah