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Questions concerning the Psalms

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#1 Dan L.

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 02:19 PM

I have been reading the Psalms daily for the first time in many years and I am struck at the number of times that David wishes evil to fall on his enemies. Here is the passage that I read today that particularly disturbed me:

Psalms 109

1 Do not keep silent,
O God of my praise!
2 For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful
Have opened against me;
They have spoken against me with a lying tongue.
3 They have also surrounded me with words of hatred,
And fought against me without a cause.
4 In return for my love they are my accusers,
But I give myself to prayer.
5 Thus they have rewarded me evil for good,
And hatred for my love.
Set a wicked man over him,
And let an accuser stand at his right hand.
7 When he is judged, let him be found guilty,
And let his prayer become sin.
8 Let his days be few,
And let another take his office.
9 Let his children be fatherless,
And his wife a widow.
10 Let his children continually be vagabonds, and beg;
Let them seek their bread also from their desolate places.
11 Let the creditor seize all that he has,
And let strangers plunder his labor.
12 Let there be none to extend mercy to him,
Nor let there be any to favor his fatherless children.
13 Let his posterity be cut off,
And in the generation following let their name be blotted out...

If I were to write something like this about a non-believer who was causing me problems, my priest would likely reprimand me for not demonstrating love and forgiveness and calling curses down not just on that person, but also on his family. Why is it ok for King David to have this attitude as a man after God's own heart, but fleshly for us to think in such terms? I'm sure this goes along the whole Old vs New Testament discussion that is often bantered about, but it just seems that King David has no concept of God's love for mankind. Could anyone give me a better understanding of how to interpret passages such as this?

#2 Rdr Daniel (R.)

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 03:10 PM

Dear Dan,

I believe the psalm you have posted, is a prophecy of Judas who betrayed Christ. As it is written in the Acts of the Apostles,

In those days, Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (and the number of names was about one hundred twenty), and said, “Men,Brethren, needfully fufilled was this Scripture, this which before hand the Holy Spirit spoke by the mouth of David about Judas, he became a guide to those that seized Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and received a portion in this ministry. Indeed these things being so this man obtained a field with the reward of wrongfulness, and falling headlong, his body burst open, and all his intestines gushed out. It became known to all the dwellers of Jerusalem insomuch as that field is called in their own tongue, Akeldama, that is, The field of blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms,
'Let his dwelling become lonesome, and let none dwell therein’
'His office let another take.’

And his children may then be taken to be the children of Judas that is those who walking in his ways, betray or hate Christ.

It is true that in the Old Testement not as much was required of man as Christ had not yet come, they were under a tutor and not yet ready to be perfect, but since the coming of Christ the shadow has past away and we must now walk according to the Light of God who dwelt amongst us, becoming Man and who has shown us the way wherein we should walk. But we must also read everything the Old Testament in the light of the New for many things are types and prophecies of Christ and of His life here amongst us.

I hope that is of some help.

In Christ.

#3 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 04:18 PM

I think the big lesson here is to try and avoid being the one spoken of rather than being the one speaking. Here are very practical reasons NOT to be wicked or deceitful or to have a lying tongue, so as to avoid having someone, anyone, wishing these things on us!

#4 Dan L.

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 07:48 PM

I have heard many recommendations to pray the Psalms. Should I pray these Psalms or are there specific Psalms that are recommended for prayer and others that are perhaps best avoided?

#5 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 26 December 2012 - 10:25 PM

I do not think there are any Psalms to "avoid", but different Psalms are particularly suited to specific situations. I recommend reading "The Letter of St. Athenasius to Marcellinus on the Interpretation of the Psalms" for some excellent guidance on the subject.

#6 Dan L.

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Posted 27 December 2012 - 01:08 PM

Thank you Herman, that is an excellent reference!

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