By Pr Isaiah White
A vindictive person is characterised by a desire for blood; to see his enemies suffer or to see his enemies crushed underfoot.
When a vindictive person prays to God, he prays like this: “Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell.
“Tear it down,” they cried, “Tar it down to its foundations!”
Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is the one who repays you according to what you have done to us” (Psalm 137:8).
Many Bible readers wonder how such a verse and many like it would be in the Holy Book of God.
Here are the reasons; first, the Bible has the word of God through the words and ways of men.
What makes the Bible different from other religious books is that, unlike the Quran, the Bible is the work of God through the abilities and inabilities of men (1 Peter 1:20-21).
Second, many Bible readers hardly distinguish the attitudes and words of men from the word of God in Bible verses.
The assumption is that whatever is in the Bible is God’s word, which is not true.
Apostle Paul knew this when he cautioned his audience with these words: “To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord)” (1 Corinthians 7:12).
So, it is important that we observe that in every verse or passage. The Bible is a literature piece that communicates the word of God.
Therefore, it must be subjected to literature tools for a reader to deduce the inspired word of God from it.
Contextually, what we have in this Psalm is vindictive Jewish worshippers who are angry at the Edomites who looted Jerusalem and the Babylonians who destroyed their capital city.
As this Psalm is sung, they are in exile in Babylon (Psalm 137:1), where they had been taken as slaves after the Babylonians burned down the city of Jerusalem.
The Jews in exile were then told to “sing us one of the songs of Zion!” (Psalm 137:1), adding further humiliation and frustration to a defeated people.
It is an exercise of an emotion based on religious primitive theology of who God is.
The Jews believed God to be an avenger and did not entertain the Christian God who asks us to love our enemies and wish them well (Matthew 5:43-44).
Christians must not say these vindictive prayers, and neither should we attempt avenging ourselves for God is our avenger (Romans 12:17-19).
The writer is a life coach and theologian.
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