Horses, Cows, Oxen, Negros” May 30, 2020
Psalm 144:14-15 That our oxen may be well laden: that there be no breaking in or going out; that there be no outcry in the streets. Happy are the people whose God is the Lord!
“Horses, Cows, Oxen, Negros,” this was the title of an advertisement from 1799 for the sale of slaves, categorizing men and women of color with cattle. Caught your attention didn’t it? Had this ad appeared in our current daily news, or Facebook feed, many would be offended, even outraged. Why, because this is a blatant way to devalue an individual. Yet these sentiments dominated this particular time in history, until the practice was questioned and banned in 1863 with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.
The scriptural text is from the 144th book of Psalm. This book speaks of the blessing of the Lord. Psalm 144:15 reads, “How blessed, fortunate, prosperous, and favored are the people whose God is the Lord!” (Amplified Version) Today, May 30, 2020, I woke up to protests in the streets, riots, and Facebook memes questioning the authority of our God to save us through our prayers in times of trouble. Someone posted a photograph of a black man praying, with a caption that basically implied that prayer will not help us through the beatings and the protests, but may I remind everyone that prayer helped our ancestors back then, and prayer will help us now? Psalm 144:14 states, “That our oxen may be well laden; that there be no breaking in or going out; that there be no outcry in our streets.” Sound familiar? These are the prayers that David prayed, and these are the prayers that I am praying.
David began this Psalm by stating, “Blessed be the Lord, my Rock, who trains my hands for war.” You see, as David prayed, God was giving him divine strategies for warfare. Prayer is not merely a one-way conversation from our mouth to God’s ears, but a time of divine revelation, a communion between natural man and our Heavenly Father.
What I found interesting, was the mention of oxen in verse 14. You see an ox symbolizes many things in the Hebrew culture. Oxen were castrated bulls trained to carry burdens, or weights. An ox stood for sacrifice, yet they were held in high esteem because of there value. Oxen were often yoked together. This was a representation of a student teacher relationship. People of God, the Lord is the teacher, and we are His students. He is now, as He always has trained us to fight this battle of racism, oppression, and bigotry through prayer. He will train our hands for war, His war. Yes, we were once equated with oxen and other cattle, but you and I are valuable, talented and blessed by God. Stay on the Lord’s side. We will win.
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Princeton & Slavery Project, https://slavery.princeton.edu/sources/horses-cows-oxen-negroes. Accessed 30 May 2020.