Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Friend or Foe?

Read the following quotations carefully. Think over their implications and the view the author of these statements must possess of God and Scripture to have uttered these things. I will not supply the author’s name just yet. That will follow. As you read the following remarks, ask yourself if the person who said these things is a friend or foe of the Christian faith. I guarantee you’ll be rather shocked if you do not already know the source.

“In some of the Psalms, the spirit of hatred which strikes us in the face is like the heat from a furnace mouth. In others the same spirit ceases to be frightful only by becoming (to a modern mind) almost comic in its naivety. Examples of the first can be found all over the Psalter, but perhaps the worst is in 109. The poet prays that an ungodly man may rule over his enemy and that “Satan” may stand at his right hand (verse 5).”

“The examples which (in me at any rate) can hardly fail to produce a smile may occur most disquietingly in Psalms we love; 143, after proceeding for eleven verses in a strain that brings tears to the eyes, adds in the twelfth, almost like an afterthought ‘and of thy goodness slay mine enemies.’ Even more naively, almost childishly, Psalm 139, in the middle of its hymn of praise throws in (verse 19) ‘Wilt thou not slay the wicked, O God?’ – as if it were surprising that such a simple remedy for human ills had not occurred to the Almighty.’”

“The hatred is there (in the Psalms. AKU) – festering, gloating, undisguised – and we should be wicked if we in any way condoned or approved it, or (worse still) used it to justify similar passion in ourselves…

“We can still see, in the worst of their maledictions, how these old poets were, in a sense, near to God. Though hideously distorted by the human instrument, something of the Divine voice can be heard in these passages.”

“Worst of all in ‘The Lord is my shepherd’ (Psalm 23), after the green pasture, the waters of comfort, the sure confidence in the valley of the shadow, we suddenly run across (verse 5) ‘Thou shalt prepare a table for me against them that trouble me’ – or as Dr. Moffatt translates it, ‘Thou art my host, spreading a feast for me while my enemies have to look on.’ The poet’s enjoyment of his present prosperity would not be complete unless those horrid Joneses (who used to look down their noses at him) were watching it all at hating it. This may not be so diabolical as the passages I have quoted above but the pettiness and vulgarity of it, especially in such surroundings are hard to endure. One way of dealing with these terrible or (dare we say?) contemptible Psalms is simply to leave them alone but unfortunately the bad parts will not ‘come away clean.’”

“We need therefore by no means assume that the Psalmists are deceived or lying when they assert that, as against their particular enemies at some particular moment, they are completely in the right. Their voices while they say so may grate harshly on our ear and suggest they are unamiable people. But that is another matter and to be wronged does not commonly make people amiable. But of course the fatal confusion between being in the right and being righteous soon falls upon them. In Psalm 7, from which I have already quoted, we see the transition. In verses 3 to 5 the poet is merely in the right; by verse 8 he is saying, ‘give sentence with me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the innocency that is in me’”


  1. Only a foe could speak like this. Any guesses as to the identity of the author?


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