Understanding How To Interpret ALL Imprecatory Psalms

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by wpe3bql, Sep 27, 2015.

  1. wpe3bql

    wpe3bql
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    I've read that people today find it difficult to read, much less how to interpret, the OT imprecatory Psalms that are interspersed with the Book of Psalms, since in these days the NT commands God's children to love even people (who most likely--but not always--aren't born-again Christians) who seem to be dead set in opposing both individual born-again Christians themselves, or groups of them, or Christian faith-based organizations.

    My neighbor, who by his own testimony, says that when he and/or his wife (who is born-again; the man, I can't say is born-again, but is "A good man as the world would evaluate him,") try to read these kind of Psalms to their young children--all of whom are ages 10 and younger--they have real difficulty trying to explain these Psalms to them, especially in this "God is love/Love is God" kind of world that he seems to think all born-again Christians hold to.

    In my own personal experiences, I definitely wouldn't agree with his outlook of "Born-Again Christianity," but that's a topic for another thread.

    My question is this: Just how should we interpret these imprecatory Psalms, especially to either brand-new Christians or, as in the case of my neighbor, probably isn't a born-again Christian?

    I'd really like to know how you'd approach interpreting these imprecatory Psalms to his 10 YO & younger children.

    Some specific NT verses on this would really be helpful to me.

    Thanks in advance for any advice that my BB friends can give me on dealing with this situation.
     
  2. Scarlett O.

    Scarlett O.
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    You have to read the psalms for what they are. They are songs and they do what songs do - they express the human experience and use emotion to do so.

    It's like what's going on in the heart, mind, and inner man comes out of the mouth as a song. Some of it is pretty and some is not. You can find anger, fear, peace, discouragement, awe of God, humility, praise of God, passion, and more in the psalms.

    You see in all the psalms, not just the imprecatory ones, the human experience - the cry of the human voice to God. The imprecatory psalms call for God's righteousness to be upheld even if it takes the slaughter of those who oppose God's righteousness.

    Yes, God is love, but God is holy and his wrath is certain and justified. For people in the Old Covenant to cry out to God to defend the righteous and opposed the wicked isn't that off putting to me.

    Today, under the New Covenant, we pray for God to crush evil, but to save the evil-doers from unrighteousness and to save their souls.
     
  3. Deacon

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    Happy is the one who seizes your infants
    and dashes them against the rocks.
    Psalm 137:9 (NIV)​

    So what exactly do you have trouble explaining? :laugh:

    A popular and beautiful song was sung about this episode.
    Rivers of Babylon - Linda Ronstadt 1975 [LINK]

    An imprecatory psalm is a psalmists appeal to God for judgement.
    They are best understood in the context of the event they were written about.
    In this case, read it in the context of the prophet Obadiah.
    The people wondered, "Where is God in the midst of chaotic wonton killing and destruction?"

    They are hard for us to appreciate because we are so blessed and widely separated from events of this magnitude.

    Times will change! Someday we may be hitting those notes.

    When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.
    Revelation 6:9–11 (NIV)​

    Rob
     
  4. wpe3bql

    wpe3bql
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    Thanks for these posts.

    I know what an Imprecatory Psalm is. Even Peter in Acts 1:20 invoked Psalm 109:8--a classic Imprecatory Psalm--to justify the selection of a "replacement for Judas Iscariot."

    My real concern was stated in my OP: Just how should my neighbor's wife go about explaining what an Imprecatory Psalm is to her 10YO and younger children?

    She's got some kind of "Read Your Bible Through In One Year" program that she's using as a sort-of guide for her children's daily devotions.

    Apparently she's coming up to one of these Imprecatory Psalms, and she asked me if I knew how to go about explaining to them what to their still-immature minds on matters that she finds in these kinds of Psalms.

    Having worked with children off and on for over 30 years, I've not come across a good way to explain these Imprecatory Psalms to young children (10 YO or younger).

    All the material I've ever come across never seems to even mention how you explain to these young minds that even many adults are challenged with when it comes to these kind of Psalms.

    Here's where I really need help: So, if any of you out in BB land can direct me to some useful guides on how to help her out when she gets to one of these Imprecatory Psalms, I'd love to hear from y'all! :thumbs:
     

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