Troublesome Psalms

August 28, 2008

One great practice in our personal worship is to read from the Psalms every day.  The “prayer book of the Hebrews” contains a full range of emotions and responses to God, so it may be the most sympathetic book of the Bible.  We can relate to the fear, thanksgiving, worry, joy, sorrow, victory and tragedy surrounding the Psalmists.  But you won’t get too far in the Psalms without hitting a troublesome cry.  Did I just read something about “dashing their infants against the rocks?” 

What does a Christian do with “Let there be none to extend kindness to him, nor any to pity his fatherless children!” (Psalm 109) or “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous.” (Psalm 69)?  Surely, God deals severely with the wicked.  But when we consider our own double-minded tendencies, do we not feel the flames of destruction on our own heels?  Is it right for us to pursue one’s destruction rather than his salvation?  How does the Gospel shape (or change) the way we read the”Imprecatory Psalms?”

This question has troubled me for some time.  I know Jesus has covered my sin with his own righteousness, and God’s wrath which I deserved has been fully spent on God’s Son on the cross, but it still makes me tremble.  Over the summer, I found two helpful resources on the subject.  If you wonder what to do with these Psalms, I’ll share one with you today.  David Powlison spoke on Jesus and the Imprecatory Psalms at the WorshipGod conference last July.  The audio is available online, and you can read a brief summary from Bob Kauflin.  After hearing Powlison’s thoughts, I discovered a great joy in these troublesome psalms.  The truth is, the expression of God’s wrath against evil is at the heart of the Gospel.  Hear this message and find joy – God will deliver us from evil.

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