Thursday, July 08, 2010

An angry prayer

"Daughter Zion, doomed to destruction,
happy is the one who pays you back
what you have done to us.
Happy is he who takes your little ones
and dashes them against the rocks."
-- Psalm 137:8-9, HCSB

Have you ever prayed to God when you were angry? Perhaps in anger you asked God to pay somebody back, but even the most bitter person would probably be shocked by the prayer of Psalm 137. John Philips says, "This surely has to be the most perplexing beatitude in the Bible." (Philips, Exploring Psalms, volume 2, p. 580).
How are we to take this prayer?
1) It was an honest expression of feeling. Understand that the Jewish exiles in Babylon were tormented, mocked and mourned over Jerusalem. (See Psalm 137:1-6). Even their neighbors in Edom ridiculed them (Psalm 137:7). So this prayer was an honest expression of their hurt. God already knows how you feel, so if you honestly tell God, it helps to get your feelings out.
2) It was a cry for justice. According to verse 8, Babylon had dashed Jewish infants against the rocks, a common practice in ancient warfare (2 Kings 8:12; Nahum 3:10). Vengeance and justice belongs to God (Romans 12:19), and this prayer can be seen as asking God to do what Isaiah and Jeremiah had prophesied (Isaiah 13:16; Jeremiah 51:24). Interestingly, the actual conquest of Babylon by the Persians was not this harsh, so perhaps we are to understand this as fulfilled spiritually in the "Babylon" of Revelation 17-18, the evil world system that will be destroyed at the end of time.
3) As Christians, we must pray for our enemies. No matter how we hurt and honestly feel, Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies in Matthew 5:44.Slide 5

No comments: