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Friday, January 03, 2014

"Facing violence and hate in the imprecatory psalms"

Derek Flood asks questions some are afraid to even open re: psalms of lament and violent  imprecation:

...A frequent response is to stress that this is the cry of a person in pain, expressing their raw human grief and anger. Indeed, there is clearly some truth in this. For example Psalm 137 quoted above begins with words of grief, "By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept." Just as the Psalms frequently express doubt, they likewise express uncensored anger that can be understood as a very natural human response. We might even say that, like Job, the Psalms express a healthy spirituality in the sense that they demonstrate that it is okay for us to express our real feelings of doubt, grief, anger and pain.
As true as all of this is, it is not the whole story. It is one thing to honestly express human emotions. It is another to uphold these as "blessed" and thus to imply that such declarations of hate and death have God's sanction. Yet this is exactly what Psalm 137 declares. While Jesus says "blessed are the peacemakers" Psalm 137 says in contrast "blessed are those who smash in the heads of toddlers." Rather obviously we have here two diametrically opposed understandings of what God blesses...

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