Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Spurgeon on Psalm 137

The mother of all Imprecatory Psalms, 137, is a real challenge especially verse 9 which calls for the infaticide of the children of Babylon in violent language:  How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones Against the rock. The apparent barbarism of this verse is immediately apparent and how do we reconcile a verse like this (and others could be used here) with the message of Scripture of grace, forgiveness, and mercy?

Well, the Prince of Preachers, Charles H. Spurgeon, warned us of viewing this in the wrong light.  He writes:

Let those find fault with it who have never seen their temple burned, their city ruined, their wives ravished, and after children slain; they might not, perhaps, be quite so velvet mouthed if they had suffered after this fashion. It is one thing to talk of the bitter feeling which moved captive Israelites in Babylon, and quite another thing to be captives ourselves under a savage and remorseless power, which knew not how to show mercy, but delighted in barbarities to the defenceless. -Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Psalm 137.

Spurgeon, as always, is right.  It is easy for us to judge the Psalmist for his strong language, but just listen to the voice of the mother who pleads for the death penalty against the man who murdered her child. Is it barbarism or a cry for justice and vengeance?  This Psalm is echoed in the voice of the angry father who’s daughter was raped. This Psalm is echoed in the voice of the child who watches his parents destroy each other in anger and abuse.  This Psalm is echoed in the voice of a nation who at the rubble of two buildings scream, “Go get them George!” Who then replies, “I hear you, the whole world hears you, and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon!”

Before we speak in outrage over this text, let us realize that we have uttered similar things and it is right to beg God to defend the righteous and to judge the wicked.

For more:
Sermon - October 16, 2011 | Psalm 23 - The Lord is My Shepherd: Peace in the Shepherd's Arms
Sermon - October 23, 2011 | Psalm 99 - The Lord is My King
Sermon - October 30, 2011 | Psalm 8 - The Lord is My Lord
Sermon - November 6, 2011 | Psalm 1: The Lord is My Delight
Sermon - November 13, 2011 | Psalm 51:  The Lord is My Salvation
Sermon - November 20, 2011 | Psalm 136: The Lord is My God

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