Reading through the Bible together

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

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In the light of Jesus’ instruction to love our (your) enemies, how should we handle the Psalms in which enemies are cursed in such descriptive language?  (1) We may apply the counsel of Peter who said that some things in the Bible are hard to understand, and so ignore them; or (2) we may assume that because they are in the Bible that they are inspired and good, or (3) we can struggle to understand them.

New Testament writers quoted more times from this psalm than from any other, applying many portions to the life of Jesus.  John applies verse 4 to the enemies of Jesus who hated Him without reason; and verse 9 to the cleansing of the Temple when Jesus threw out those who insulted God; then in verse 21 describes the scorn of the enemies and how they offered vinegar to quench His thirst.  After all that in the rest of the Psalm we are almost ready to hear the words “forgive them for they know not what they do,” but instead we find the curses. David concluded this Psalm with the plea “may they be blotted out of the book of life” (verse 29).

So should we adopt Jesus’ forgiving attitude to our detractors or David’s attitude of cursing?  Since the next Psalm of David (Psalm 70) also has elements of curse we will continue tomorrow.

Gordon Christo
Secretary, Southern Asia Division