"Gilead is mine, and Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet; Judah is my scepter. Moab is my washbasin; on Edom I hurl my shoe; over Philistia I shout in triumph."
Last year, before President Bush left office, an "international incident" took place. While speaking in Iraq, a man stood up, took off his shoe, and hurled it at the president. It didn't hit him, but then again, we discovered that wasn't his intent anyway. Reporters and Middle Eastern correspondents spoke about a Middle Eastern custom of "shoe hurling" as a sign of protest & contempt. (Note: I've been enjoying NBC's series "Kings"... and in the 2nd to last episode, a man also hurls a shoe at the king during a major speech.)
Well, I was thoroughly surprised today to read in Psalm 60 that God is also in the shoe hurling business! Who knew!?!? To show His reign, rule, and superiority over the Hebrew territories (and those who were once part of the Hebrew Empire), God "calls out" them all: Gilead, Manasseh, Ephraim, Judah, Moab, Edom, Philistia. (It's Edom, by the way, who has the distinction of getting God's shoe hurled at it!). A divine display of protest.
God, who could zap, smite, smote, send blight or pestilence, drought or famine, fire or brimstone... instead... hurls his shoe!?!? It's kind of funny, if you think about it. God is both asserting His authority AND displaying his frustration with His people. I'm sure we could swap out names from today to keep these verses relevant, and we'd still be true tot he text. We are, quite often, a sorry lot.
And yet... the power of Christianity... the amazing grace that changes lives... is the fact that "God the Shoe Hurler" is also God the Forgiver... God the Reconciler... God the Savior. Sure, He may hurl His shoes at us from time to time (okay, more often, probably)... but He never forsakes or abandons us to our own devices. That's love. We don't deserve it (that's grace!).
How cool is that?!?! AMEN.