October 10, 2020

God of Vengeance

O Lord, you God of vengeance, you God of vengeance, shine forth!
Rise up, O judge of the earth; give to the proud what they deserve!
O Lord, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked exult?
They pour out their arrogant words; all the evildoers boast.
They crush your people, O Lord, and afflict your heritage.
They kill the widow and the stranger, they murder the orphan, and they say, “The Lord does not see; the God of Jacob does not perceive.”  
 
Ps 94:1-7
  
My 21st century spirituality is repelled by the idea of praying to a God of vengeance. But the psalmist is praying to just such a God, and probably for good reason. The proud spoken of in this psalm are crushers of God's people, killers of widows and foreigners, and murderers of orphans. Is it really such a horrible thing to pray that God would act to end such oppression? Moreover, it is God's perceived inaction which these killers think gives them license to act as they do, for they think God incapable of even knowing what's up in the world, let alone doing anything to end injustice.

I hope I will never feel comfortable calling for the death of—or even physical harm to—people I disagree with. But perhaps I should spend more time praying that God will put an end to activity that takes food from the mouths of the hungry, does injury to the poor, and increases the pain of the oppressed. As the Book of Psalms makes clear, prayer need not (indeed, it should not) be all sunshine and roses.
Leonardo dicaprio • Leo dicaprio • the great Gatsby 
When I turn to you in prayer, O God, help me to spare a thought for the pain in the world, and to place the solution in your hands; in Jesus' Name who taught me to pray: Our Father...

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