I have often wondered how our worship songs always reflect on the mercy, the glory or the forgiveness of Father for our sins, and neglect the “imprecatory psalms” that call for justice or destruction of those who refuse His grace. (To imprecate is “to invoke or call down curses, as upon a person”.) A recent article in Christianity Today sheds some light on this idea, and I seriously doubt we will see many songs like “I Will Sing Unto the Lord” coming along again, “the horse and rider thrown into the sea,” sometimes cheerfully sung by children.
No one seems to be writing Psalm 109 hymns for the worship team:
8May his days be few; may another take his office!
9 May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow!
10 May his children wander about and beg, seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!
11 May the creditor seize all that he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
12 Let there be none to extend kindness to him, nor any to pity his fatherless children!
And perhaps this is okay, in that there are times we tend to excuse our own inclinations to vengeance, when it is God who is the Judge, not us. In these times of polarization where even families cannot gather because of differing views on everything from masks, vaccines, border control and anything political, it may be more vital than ever that we focus our worship times on God’s mercy for the undeserving… like me. Remember “Standing in the Need of Prayer?” 😉
In line with this, often our reluctance to condemn the guilty is lodged in our own guilt because we do know we are not without sin. Like the accusers in John 8 who wanted to condemn a woman “caught in the act of adultery” (so where was the man who was also committing sin???), none of us wants to cast the first stone, knowing that we have been just as bad. But it leaves a sour taste in our mouths when someone does something so heinous that we would never do (or at least we think we would never do).
Then we feel justified in condemning the sinner, and therein lies the deceit of our enemy. OUR tendency is to condemn the person, more than the action. And that is the reason Father tells us to leave vengeance up to Him! “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:19-21)
But what we do in reaction to a person’s sin can be quite apart from how we pray for a person caught in sin! Leaving the actual judgement up to Father does not mean to ignore the sin, and we may even be called to justify or condemn an action based on the Law, not on our personal guilt or absolution. Jury duty, anyone? If we absolve a criminal driving offense because we have been guilty of the same, we abuse the law intended to protect us and others from criminal effects.
However, this is very different from personally attacking the person who has violated the law. Rather, it is allowing the law to proceed as it was intended. And it should serve as a warning to us to not abuse that law… again.
And this is very different from participating in national or tribal action against one acting criminally as in warfare, but that is a subject for another blog someday.
Anyway, I thought you might do some introspection on the theme of this article from CT, “Go Ahead. Pray for Putin’s Demise.” It is less “imprecatory” than the title suggests. Good reading in the magazine when you subscribe.
And check out these acapella Amish boys reminding us how holy Father is!