Thursday, February 10, 2005

A Prayer for Revenge. I am on several email address-group lists with other Christian attorneys and business people. Now and then, someone sends out an email raising a question, and then things start going back and forth. It is great fun, and I wish I could somehow post these conversations easily on the blog. Here is one that has started this morning that I will paste up. If it develops more threads, I will come back and revise this post with them.

Initial email:

Is this really a prayer for revenge?

Psalm 41:1 For the choir director: A psalm of David. Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor. The LORD rescues them in times of trouble. 2 The LORD protects them and keeps them alive. He gives them prosperity and rescues them from their enemies. 3 The LORD nurses them when they are sick and eases their pain and discomfort. 4 "O LORD," I prayed, "have mercy on me. Heal me,for I have sinned against you." 5 But my enemies say nothing but evil about me. "How soon will he die and be forgotten?" they ask. 6 They visit me as if they are my friends, but all the while they gather gossip, and when they leave, they spread it everywhere. 7 All who hate me whisper about me, imagining the worst for me. 8"Whatever he has, it is fatal," they say. "He will never get out of that bed!" 9 Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely, the one who shared my food, has turned against me. 10 LORD, have mercy on me. Make me well again, so I can pay them back! 11 I know that you are pleased with me, for you have not let my enemy triumph over me. 12 You have preserved my life because I am innocent; you have brought me into your presence forever. 13 Bless the LORD,the God of Israel, who lives forever from eternal ages past. Amen and amen

First comment:

I think it is such a prayer [of revenge]. But that doesn't mean that it is a model for us or that God will answer the prayer in quite the way that the person making the prayer is asking. (The model, of course, is the Lord's Prayer: "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.") What it does show is what a great book the Bible is. It shows a decent man who is honest with his God about what he really wants, whether what he wants is quite the right thing or not. I just love it.

Next comment

I agree completely with [the first comment]. Part of the uniqueness of the Bible and one of the reasons it is truly disingenuous to classify it as mythological literature, is that its hero's are not mythologized, but rather, presented warts - failings - and all. The interesting thing is how God would respond. Remember that it is scripture that interprets scripture, and you have to look to the theological passages to interpret the historical passages. See Leviticus 19:18 "Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord" and Romans 12:19-20 "Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written" 'It is mine to avenge; I will repay,' says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him: ..."

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