8 Grant R. Osborne Quotes on The Hermeneutical Spiral: A Comprehensive Introduction to Biblical Interpretation - Quotes.pub

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Imprecatory psalms. Imprecatory psalms (Ps 12; 35; 52; 57—59; 69; 70; 83; 109; 137; 140) are usually lament psalms where the writer’s bitterness and desire for vindication are especially predominant. This leads to such statements as Psalm 137:8- 9, “[Happy is] he who seizes your infants / and dashes them against the rocks.” Such statements are shocking to modern sensitivities and cause many to wonder at the ethical standards of the biblical writers. However, several points must be made. The writer is actually pouring out his complaint to God regarding the exile, as in Psalm 137. He is also heeding the divine command of Deuteronomy 32:35 (Rom 12:19), “It is mine to avenge; I will repay.” Finally, as Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart note, the author is calling for judgment on the basis of the covenant curses (Deut 28:53-57; 32:25), which make provision for the complete annihilation of the transgressors, even family members (2003:221). The hyperbolic language is common in such emotional passages. In short, these do not really contradict the New Testament teaching to love our enemies. When we can pour out our animosity to God, that very act opens the door to acts of kindness akin to Romans 12:20 (Prov 25:21-22). In fact, meditation on and application of these psalms could be therapeutic to those who have suffered traumatic hurt (such as child abuse). By pouring out one’s natural bitterness to God, the victim could be freed to “love the unlovely.” We must remember that the same David who penned all the above except for Psalm 83 and Psalm 137 showed great mercy and love to Saul. When you have called out for justice after being deeply wounded (like the martyred saints in Rev 6:9-11), Romans 12:19 is actually being fulfilled because the vengeance is truly left with God, freeing you to forgive your enemy.