Revenge and magical thinking in Psalms

Many of the Psalms involve asking God to punish enemies and seem opposing to the teachings of Christ towards those who hate us. How do i understand this?

Also, some Psalms seem to promise that no harm would come to us if we are faithful to God and observe his precepts but in reality this does not seem to be the case. How do i understand this?

I think that is what makes the Psalms so beautiful, they express the full range of human emotion and desire. they are prayers for all of us. that doesn’t make them theologically perfect.


For the first question this article explains it:

It sums up four groups to pray against: 1. Pray them first against Satan.
2. Pray them second against your sinful nature.
3. Pray them third against the world systems of corruption and oppression.
4. Pray them lastly against enemies, God’s then yours.

Cursing others isn’t bad if they are against God and justice (and the primary curse is that of death, which we know is just via the Law). One of the 22 reasons given is this which is interesting: Jesus bore the vengeance that the Psalms ask for: “The imprecatory psalm leads to the cross of Jesus and to the love of God which forgives enemies. . . . In this way the crucified Jesus teaches us to pray the imprecatory psalms correctly” (Bonhoeffer).

For the second I suspect one reason was the promises of the land God gave the Israelites. They were really preserved for lots of harm by following the Law, and sent into disaster (in literal, physical ways) by not. We now understand this in a more eternal sense (no eternal harm comes to us if we follow God, like St. Paul said we count the current sufferings as nothing compared to the glory we’ll receive)

such a great read as i recently have been thinking of God’s divine justice. I felt sad recently because there doesn’t seem to be justice in Christianity and all the mercy given to evil just seems like Stockholm syndrome.

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A lot of it is because people abuse Scripture and take passages out of context and the culture that it was in. For instance people forget that Jesus approved of the death penalty in two controversial (to us and a bit to them) cases in the Bible.

" We don’t know why the Pharisees’ witnesses disqualified themselves by walking away. Maybe because they had broken the law simply by not bringing the male adulterer: Deut 22:22-24. Maybe they had accepted a bribe for participating in the legal action: Exod. 23:7-8. Whatever their crime, Jesus knew about it, and knew that it was enough to disqualify them as witnesses. “Judge not lest you be judged. With the measure you measure, it will be measured to you.” (Matt. 7:2)"

(Not everything on this site is good but this is good.)

It’s a long pile is misinterpretation

Yes, like you just did in your response regarding the death penalty.

What you posted does not appear to comport with Church teaching, and the “Biblical Law” site does not appear to be a Catholic website, unless you can show differently.
If it is not a Catholic site you should not be posting it here.

Catholic theology on Jesus and the death penalty is better expressed in Cardinal Dulles’ writings on the death penalty and subsequent analyses of same.

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I am not trying to derail only to show OP that praying the Psalter isn’t against the Gospel (which would be absurd) and does not require that we ignore what the words mean

Again, please use Catholic resources in making your explanations.

There’s enough Catholic resources, apologetics, etc on the death penalty and other Biblical subjects out there. Posting these apparently Protestant sola scriptura analyses only confuses people and spreads misinformation.

Furthermore, saying Jesus approved of the death penalty is a bit of a leap. It’s much more nuanced than that . Don’t forget Jesus also said “Thou shalt not kill” and intervened to save one woman from execution.

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Much of the OT talks about hating one’s enemies and seeking to overthrow them by violent means. So the OP should not be surprised that the Psalms, part of the OT, speak of this as well. When Jesus came, He established a New Covenant. His teachings in the NT, while so familiar to us, astonished his original listeners because they overthrew some of what had been taught previously. Jesus teaches “love your enemies; do good to those who harm you,” and “revenge is God’s alone.” As Christians, we revere the OT as God’s revelation, but it is only the foundation for the New Testament when God revealed Himself fully in the person of Jesus.

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Is it not the purpose of the Righteous to despise evil?

When Christ returns, will it be in love? Or terribly vengeance!?

We are called to love all. But we are also called to rebuke and despise evil.

Think of the Crusades. HALF of the Christian territory was destroyed by Islam. Children and women raped and enslaved. Men tortures and killed. Was it love to sit idly by and watch it continue? No!

Out of love for neighbor and God, men took up the sword to SAVE the faithful Christians. Just as God commanded the Israelite to destroy the wicked nations in the desert because of their child sacrificing religion.

“There is a time to love; and a time to hate.
There is a time for peace; and a time for war.” Ecclesiaties 3:8.

As a little child, I was taught that “harm” was referring to spiritual harm, not physical.

However, there is a big vein of thought nowadays among some Christian preachers to teach the Prosperity Gospel, which posits that God rewards good behavior with earthly “stuff”.
And people find it isn’t true.

In the Bible, Jesus promises we will face suffering and persecution’s, and we’ll even have loved ones hate us.

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There is another dimension to this as well, more in the temporal realm, that a level of contentment and joy accompany the Christian who cannot be perturbed by the loss of wealth, health, or comfort. Like Job who is beset with earthly calamities but refuses to curse the LORD, no harm can truly come to us if we trust in God and hope in His promises.

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The Psalms are poetry.

Magic is condemned in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

i do not mean that magic but an unrealistic expectation on reality.

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