“Deliver me from my enemies, O God; protect me from those who rise up against me. . . They return at evening, snarling like dogs, and prowl about the city. See what they spew from their mouths – they spew out swords from their lips. . . For the sins of their mouths, for the words of their lips, let them be caught in their pride, for curses and lies they utter. . . They return at evening, snarling like dogs. . . ” Psalm 59:1, 6-7, 12, 14. (NIV)
Hmm, “snarling like dogs” – Who snarls more? Man or Beast?
I learned a really great lesson about snarling once from our dog, Max.
While Max can be the most good-tempered, lovable, playful and delightful dog ever – there just happens to be the snarly side of Max that we see every once in a while. Believe me when I say, it’s not pretty and he knows it.
“Hey, Max, wanna go for a walk?” – is usually something he loves to hear coming from the lips of his momma. He gets SO excited over the mention of a W_ _ _! In fact, I have to be careful not to say the whole word, (ever!) or else, I am taking him for a walk whether I really wanted to or not. His eyes light up like glistening diamonds. The tail goes into spasms of sheer delight. And he bounces everywhere, longing for his momma to get his harness and leash and get this walk started.
Except for this one day in particular. I asked the magical question. And yes, I truly wanted to go with him for a walk. BUT….
His reaction was not the one I had expected. He snarled at me! He growled! He raised his voice in anger! And then, I noticed his tail wasn’t wagging. Nope, it is sticking straight out stiff. There was no delightful glistening to his eyes. Nope, what I saw instead was rage. “Whoa, Max! What’s going on here? I simply asked if you wanted to go for a walk.”
For the first time ever, when I said, W A L K !, I was met with snarl! Are you kidding me, dog? The growl got louder, coming from somewhere deep within this 12 lb. fur ball. Max was angry and I had no idea why. I stepped away from the dog! Who knew what might come next. Not even a “down, boy!” would stop him. “Okay, Max, snarl all you want to boy, this momma is going walking without you.” S N A R L !!
As I walked out the door, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “If only dogs could talk! I would love to know what Max was thinking just then. For sure!!” What did that snarl mean? Where did that kind of response come from?
I set out for my afternoon walk, thinking about snarling attitudes. I was also hoping that while on this walk, I would not encounter any other snarling dogs. One was enough for me, thank you very much!
Be it beast. Be it human. We all can snarl. Growl with a vicious attitude over something we don’t like. Speak in a snarling manner because someone said something that we disagree with. While walking, I realized that I – yes, me, the human being! – can actually be a snarling dog! My guess is that you can too. Don’t we all snarl at times?
Here in this Psalm, the Psalmist is talking to God about his enemies. He is asking for protection and deliverance from those who are like “snarling dogs” – and he asks God to “deliver me from evildoers and save me from blood-thirsty men.” The Psalmist compares his enemies to “snarling dogs” – for out of them comes a snarly attitude, spewing out unwanted spit, vicious sounds, and growling grossness. It made no sense to the Psalmist. That’s what I got from Max on this day I simply wanted him to go for a W A L K. He gave me the perfect snarly attitude! And this momma didn’t like it!
As I kept walking, I got to thinking about times that I gave someone a snarly attitude. I have to say, it’s not all that often, but on a rare occasion, its been there. I’ve done that! I’ve given someone a snarly attitude over something said or done. Snarly words can spit out of my mouth so fast in an unwanted, undeserved manner. My voice can raise in vicious sounds to where I hardly recognize my own voice. And before I realize it, I am growling in the grossness of unkind, cruel words. I pity the person who has to be on the receiving end of all that. Talk about unfair! Talk about RUDE! Now, I know I am not the only human who has ever been there and done that. But, when I do that, I am not happy. I know it is wrong, but “I just couldn’t help it!” (That’s a whole different story for another blog!) God calls that kind of attitude, SIN! God is never happy when we give someone a snarly attitude or reply. God especially doesn’t like it if we dare to give HIM that kind of response. Nope, God is not happy with snarl – not ever! Clearly Max was not happy either that day. If only he could talk, I might know and understand what his problem was. But given the snarling attitude coming from my dog, I did NOT WANT him to talk. Not ever! I didn’t need to know.
I kept walking, having my own conversation with God about my own snarling attitude. I am so glad that I have such a loving and forgiving God. He is always ready to hear me talk with Him, especially when it’s to confess my wrong-doing. I felt better once I confessed to Him all the different “snarling dog” attitudes that came to my mind. I confessed every one. My step lightened. I could now enjoy the rest of the walk. Joy returned to my mind, my heart and my soul. God and I had a great walk. Too bad Max wasn’t there too.
Oh, speaking of Max – let’s go see if my pupper-dog has changed his mood any. I walked back home, unsure of what I would find. But hopeful nonetheless. Gingerly, V E R Y gingerly, I opened the door, just in case the “snarling dog” was still prowling about. I quietly stepped inside, hoping not to disturb any remnant of a snarly attitude. I turned to shut the door behind me.
Who should bound around the corner??
MAX! The tail was wagging, the eyes were a glistening and he was bouncing everywhere.
Come on, Max, let’s go for W A L K!
P.S. “No Snarling Allowed!”