Sunday, July 27, 2008

Imprecatory Psalms: 137 as a prime example

The Goofy Pastor (he has a cat named Happy Bob, after all!) led the study today, so be prepared for strange references.
  • Verse 1: time frame is during Jeremiah's prophecy; Isaiah prophesied about this time. "Waters of Babylon" are probably canals. "We remembered Zion" - theological shorthand for "the presence of God."
  • Verse 2: hanging lyres on willows would have been serious indeed, for the Hebrews were a musical culture.
  • Verse 4: "land" is a symbol for the Messiah in the Old Testament.
  • Verse 5: the right hand played instruments (some think "psalm" came from the sound of a plucked lyre string - "ps-ong").
  • Verse 6: the voice accompanied, of course. True faith is demonstrated by sorrow for having lost God's presence in the Temple. The Presence is the only thing worth singing about.
  • Verse 7: see Numbers 20:14-21 and Obadiah 10-14 concerning the Edomites.
  • Verses 8-9: formal curse, not to be used against personal enemies but against the enemies of Christ as a whole.
(verbatim) Five Principles to Understanding the Imprecatory ("to curse") Psalms:
  1. Don't mess with Texas and don't mess with the Holy Spirit (as some ELCA churches and others have done) who inspired these words.
  2. This is not a defense of Zionism but of Zion. (The Jews, the Messiah having come, are not the chosen people anymore.)
  3. God allows man's sin into His Holy Word. (David and Bathsheba, Peter's denial, etc.)
  4. This imprecation can only be accepted as God's curse upon the unbelievers. (Romans 2:5ff.)
  5. This is a temporal punishment. You and I and all other believers are not immune to it.

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