That’s really an unexpected prayer, “Put them in fear…” In fact, that’s not at all the kind of prayer that you would expect to find in a divinely-inspired book. Think about it. Is it a humane thing to pray that your enemies would be put in fear? It is if the result would be them becoming more humane. That’s what the Psalmist is praying, that the Lord would teach his enemies that they were just men. The point is for them to learn to have pity for others by showing them their own need for it.
The psalmist believes that they lack sympathy because they lack experience. You see, no one can bring help to a heart that is clouded unless he had already come through a clouded heart himself. In other words, it is only through sorrow that I can comfort sorrow. The closed door of my experience is also the very door that closes me in. The tears that I shed for my neighbor must be the tears of memory. Their source must flow from my yesterday, for if I don’t have memory of yesterday, I won’t have any tears today. There’s no way for me to put myself into another’s place if I have not first been in that place. My pity is the echo of my past and where there has been no past there will be no pity. The voice of sympathy is dead where the halls of memory are silent. The night that moves me to compassion has to be painted on the canvass of a departed day.
That’s why I am not ashamed to pray for those who have no sympathy that the Lord would “put them in fear.”‘ I am not afraid to request the the Almighty would make them more humane by teaching them to be more human. I am not embarassed to pray on them the gift of the clouds, becuase I know that His gift of the clouds will give them more room, a greater opportunity for them to become what He desires. He works that way. The clouds would move them farther down the road of humanity and higher up the steeps of Calvary. The clouds would carry them through the closed gates of their heart – gates that holds in their own wickedness and bitterness and forbids anybody else to meddle therein.
Why wouldn’t I ask for there to be such development and enlargment – even for my enemy? Surely this is even the Father’s desire for His foe – my wicked heart. That’s why He has put this fear in me – that I might realize that I am just a man. That’s why He has sent so many pillars of clouds into my day, so that I might become a pillar to those under the clouds. That’s why He has spread the canvass of sorrow in my life – that my neighbor’s night might be painted in my soul. That’s why He has placed on me the burden and the toil – that I might learn the lesson of how to give another rest. That’s why I want to thank you, Lord, for giving me Your gift of godly fear.