Daily Lesson for Wednesday 7th of February 2024
Read Psalms 58:6-8; Psalms 69:22-28; Psalms 83:9-17; Psalms 94:1-2; and Psalms 137:7-9. What sentiments do these psalms convey? Who is the agent of judgment in these psalms?
Some psalms beseech God to take vengeance on individuals and nations who intend to harm, or who have already harmed, the psalmists or their people. These psalms can sound perplexing because of their harsh language and apparent discord with the biblical principle of love for enemies (Matthew 5:44).
Yet, the psalmist’s indignation in the face of oppression is a good one. It means that the psalmists took right and wrong more seriously than did many people. He cares, even greatly, about the evil that is done in the world, not just to himself but to others, as well.
However, nowhere does the psalmist suggest himself to be the agent of vengeance. Instead, he leaves retribution solely in God’s hands. The Psalms evoke the divine covenant curses (Deuteronomy 27:9-16) and implore God to act as He has promised.
The Psalms are prophetic proclamations about God’s impending judgment; they are not solely the psalmist’s prayers. Psalms 137:1-9 reflects the announcements of divine judgment on Babylon, as seen in the prophets. The devastation that the Babylonians brought to other nations would turn back on them. The Psalms convey divine warnings that evil will not go unpunished forever.
God’s retribution is measured with justice and grace. God’s children are called to pray for those who mistreat them and even to hope for their conversion (Psalms 83:18, Jeremiah 29:7).
However, while seeking to fit these psalms with the biblical norms of love for enemies, we must be careful not to minimize the agonizing experience expressed in them. God acknowledges the suffering of His children and reassures them that “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psalms 116:15, NKJV). Divine judgment obliges God’s people to raise their voices against all evil and seek the coming of God’s kingdom in its fullness. The Psalms also give voice to those who suffer, letting them know that God is aware of their suffering and that one day justice will come.
Who doesn’t, at times, have thoughts or fantasies about vengeance on those who have done them or their loved ones terrible wrong? How might these psalms help you put such feelings in proper perspective?