The Third Turn

Written by Dr. Mark L. Vincent & Kristin Evenson
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Help! I have an enemy!

Posted by Mark L. Vincent on Nov 18, 2021 7:40:00 AM

We each have enemies. We do not arrive at Maestro-level leadership without accumulating them. Hopefully, the benefit of building integrity into our life is that we will have more opportunity than most to experience the wonder of reconciliation as alienation, anger, and bitterness resolves into peace.

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The Zur Institute provides an enemy typology :

Type 1: The symbolic enemy - The one who must be fought because it is the reason for existing. This enmity is often racial/ethnic at its source.

Type 2: The withholding enemy - The one who ravages and pillages and robs. In modern times this type of enemy is often seen as government, banks, large corporations, the owners of one's workplace, and healthcare institutions.

Type 3: The worthy enemy - The one who would be your friend if it were not for being on opposite sides- a business competitor perhaps, certainly a fellow warrior in whatever battle you face. Often, the worthy enemy can be turned to a friend.

Type 4: The enemy of God in a holy war. Seen as opposing God or one's righteous cause, the enemy of God is believed to deserve the foulest of deaths. Cancel culture is giving new expression to this in a digital age.

Type 5: The frightened, threatening enemy in defensive wars. The one who lashes out and attacks you because they see you as a threat. You might be unaware of them prior to experiencing them as an enemy.

Type 6: The oppressive enemy in the liberation or revolutionary wars. Empire expansion often drives this sort of enmity.

Type 7: The invisible enemy-within terrorist or guerilla warfare. Much of the world fears this sort of enemy more than any other. They cause as much fear by existing as by any other action they take.

As this classification is of enemies with whom you might go to physical war, it leaves one out. There remains at least one:

Type 8: Disease and Death: the vestigial remnant of evil that tears down, destroys and ultimately puts you in the grave.

Against, all these enemies we cry for help from time to time. That is the theme of Psalm 70, a cry for help against enemies in all forms.  Underlying this Psalm are two background details that help us gain deeper understanding: (1) the worldview (cosmology) within the Psalm, and (2) the use of the expression "Aha!"

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I. A Cosmology Primer*

The ancient Hebrews organized their view of the cosmos, thus:

  • There are two locations
    • Heaven
    • Earth
  • There are four kinds of people:
    • The Hebrews who are worshippers of  God
    • The priests who serve this God
    • Those who are not Hebrews but who also fear God
    • Those who worship other gods which are not gods at all
  • There are two destinations for all people:
    • Becoming like those others gods that do not even exist.
    • Being blessed by God.
  • There is one purpose: to give praise, blessing and glory to God. Ultimately you will do this in appreciation or in fear.

II.  A Primer on "Aha!" (Heb: heh-awkh')

The Hebrew expression can mean: Lo! Look! Behold! Ah! Hah! or Aha! The word might be an excited cry at something wonderful and newly discovered, such as finding a twenty dollar bill deep in the couch cushions, but it can also be used in a derisive way. For instance, rejoicing when the opposing team is injured and you wish more pain upon them, hoping their injuries never recover so that you can make fun of their loser status for generations to come.

Sometimes "Aha!" is lived more subtly. Once, when my now deceased wife Lorie and I had little children, no money, and few moments alone, we had a 2 for 1 coupon at a restaurant we had never heard of and decided to splurge. The restaurant turned out to be a seedy bar. Because we could not afford dinner elsewhere we decided to stay and make the most of it.

We were entertained by a nearby inebriated revelers who began story telling. They called on the one man at the table without a date or spouse to tell what had happened to him. "The hardest luck story ever!" they said. They were not sad with him, but took joy in the fact his story was worse than theirs. He was too liquored up to notice they were making fun of him.  It turns out he had abandoned his wife, divorcing her in order to marry the woman with whom he was having an affair. He quit his job and moved to the state where she lived. His lover then won the lottery in the millions and decided to reconcile with her husband, leaving this man homeless, jobless and wifeless. His tale of woe brought drunken guffaws all around.

The ancient cosmology of the Hebrews believed God had a particular approach to people who find joy this way. One example comes from the prophet Ezekiel (25: 1-7) where the Ammonites rejoiced (saying "Aha!") over the destruction of Jerusalem, and God pronounced judgment for this attitude specifically. 

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III. Back to Psalm 70 and Enemies

Make haste, O God, to deliver me!
   O LORD, make haste to help me!
2Let them be put to shame and confusion
   who seek my life!
Let them be turned back and brought to dishonor
   who delight in my hurt!
3Let them turn back because of their shame
   who say, "Aha, Aha!"

    4May all who seek you
   rejoice and be glad in you!
May those who love your salvation
   say evermore, "God is great!"
5But I am poor and needy;
   6 hasten to me, O God!
You are my help and my deliverer;
   O LORD, do not delay!

 

The Psalm can be understood as having four sections.

1. A plea for help v.1.

2. Concern about the enemy vv.2,3.

3. Concern for those who love God (v4.).  Do you see the cosmology leaking through? There are those who do not love God and those who do. They apparently will have different ends. The Psalmist wants to live into his understood purpose along with others--offering worship and praise to God.

4. Concern for self (v.5). The Psalmist (this Psalm is attributed to King David) is a person who fears God. He wants to make sure God sees him that way so that help will come.

These four sections are all the Psalm gives us for our struggles with an enemy. There is no promise that help will come. The reader is left with uncertainty. Is this a Psalm of hopefulness or despair? The Psalm can be read either way.

There is no resolution, no promised end to the fear of an enemy. The person who prays this Psalm remains suspended between the plea for help and any help arriving. The reader is left only with this example of a plea and the reasons why the Psalmist believes the plea can be made

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So now we come to the end and our own response.

Each of us has multiple enemies -- either the malevolent person(s) who wishes us harm, or the latent, vestigial enemy of disease and death that ultimately takes our lives.

When we do not sense the enemy at hand and cannot think of a reason why we would cry for help, we consider discussions like these morbid and prefer not to have them. But when we are in anguish, and our enemy is nearby saying "Aha, Aha!" we are ready to cry out repeatedly and are grateful for anyone who will listen and care and act on our behalf to take the pain away.

In what kind of moment are you?

If you are crying for help, then may you share the Psalmist's hope that help will come. 

If you do not feel an enemy knocking at the door, then you have space in your life to be the expression of help in the lives of others -- most especially your family, your colleagues and those you serve.  Perhaps even someone you know to be your enemy.

I like this blessing and I offer it to you:

May you continue to grow in grace;

May you be so consumed by love that you can love even your enemy;

May all those who wish you harm find no strength to act on their fierce intent;

And may  all your cries for help be answered even before you know enough to say the word.

-mark l vincent

* In addition to Psalm 70, Psalm 115 vividly displays this view of the world.

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The next Maestro-level leaders cohort gets underway in January,

 You can indicate your interest and begin a conversation with her here.

Topics: Mark L. Vincent, Design Group International, Peacemaking Training, relationship capital, corporate culture, Maestro-level Leaders, The Third Turn, The Third Turn Podcast, Kristin Evenson, company culture

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