Friday, November 07, 2008

A time for anger

Reading through the Psalms, one cannot help but note that the prayers of the psalmists are quite unlike most of ours in one significant way - they weren't afraid to be angry in the presence of God.  In Psalm 83 (which I am preaching on this weekend), the psalmist, in effect, prays, "God, stop being silent.  Your people are being afflicted by those who are seeking to wipe them (and You) from the face of the earth.  Remember how you acted in the past towards those who did this during the days of the judges?  Do it again, Lord.  Lord, smite them or save them!  But intervene on behalf of Your people."

Read them for yourself:

Psalm 83:1-18 (ESV) 
    A Song. A Psalm of Asaph.
    O God, do not keep silence;
         do not hold your peace or be still, O God!
    [2] For behold, your enemies make an uproar;
        those who hate you have raised their heads.
    [3] They lay crafty plans against your people;
        they consult together against your treasured ones.
    [4] They say, "Come, let us wipe them out as a nation;
        let the name of Israel be remembered no more!"
    [5] For they conspire with one accord;
        against you they make a covenant—
    [6] the tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
         Moab and the Hagrites,
    [7] Gebal and Ammon and Amalek,
         Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
    [8] Asshur also has joined them;
        they are the strong arm of the children of Lot.  Selah
    [9] Do to them as you did to Midian,
        as to Sisera and Jabin at the river Kishon,
    [10] who were destroyed at En-dor,
        who became dung for the ground.
    [11] Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb,
        all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,
    [12] who said, "Let us take possession for ourselves
        of the pastures of God."
    [13] O my God, make them like whirling dust,
        like chaff before the wind.
    [14] As fire consumes the forest,
        as the flame sets the mountains ablaze,
    [15] so may you pursue them with your tempest
        and terrify them with your hurricane!
    [16] Fill their faces with shame,
        that they may seek your name, O Lord.
    [17] Let them be put to shame and dismayed forever;
        let them perish in disgrace,
    [18] that they may know that you alone,
         whose name is the Lord,
        are the Most High over all the earth.

As we witness the continuing rise of persecution of Christians around the world, the brutality exhibited by regimes in Eritrea and mobs in India, the closing noose of religious restrictions in Sri Lanka and Kyrgyzstan, the mass exodus of believers from Iraq, the genocidal practices of Islamists in Somalia, how can we believe that the most appropriate response is always a dispassionate glance and gentle tongue? 

Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision and Samaritan's Purse was known for his prayer, "May my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God."  May I suggest perhaps we should also be angry at the things that anger the heart of God?

(For more discussion on the nature of the imprecatory psalms, like Psalm 83, click here)

1 comment:

Heidi Nickel said...

Thank you for this insight. I have been practicing praying the Word and have often avoided Psalms like these feeling they are not relevant to me. But I see now that in praying for the persecuted Church world wide, these Psalms are very relevant.
Heidi Nickel