Tag Archives: vengeance

Praying Vengeance in Psalm 58

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, August 26, 2017

Psa 58-10 vengeance

Praying Vengeance in Psalm 58

More evil. And, even more evil. That’s how much vengeance-praying King David is doing in this psalm. I know it is an “imprecatory psalm.” [1] But, I did not realize how many horrible things David was praying in this psalm.

Yes, I know King David faced some awful situations in his life. However, I also thought the Lord told God’s people to forgive, and to pardon, and to confess their sins. And, especially “forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.”

“The righteous will be glad when they see the vengeance; they will bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.” Seriously? Lord, are You serious? I need to look closely at Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s explanation of this. He says, “Once more we shudder as we read this psalm….My dear congregation, if we avoid this we have understood nothing. This concerns God and His righteousness only….Whoever shrinks from this joy in the vengeance of God and in the blood of the wicked does not yet know what took place on the cross of Christ.” [2]

I need to sit back and take a long breath. God, I am reminded again that Your righteousness has been fulfilled by the cross of Christ. And, it is only through His death on the cross that I can even lift my head above the ground in anything less that abject guilt and shame.

Yes, I am still horrified by such bloodthirsty talk on David’s part. However, I also need to consider those last words of our Lord Jesus on the cross. He prays, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.” And then, truly, I can say with Bonhoeffer, “When we behold Him, the crucified one, we realize God’s wrath against us wicked ones. And in the same moment we experience His deliverance from this wrath.” [3]

It is then I experience what Isaiah experienced in the temple, in the sixth chapter of his book. The angel flies to me with the coal of holy fire and burns my sin away, too. Lord, here am I.

Yes, there is judgment at the cross of Christ. Yet, there is pardon, too. “There, my burdened soul found liberty—at Calvary!”



Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my companion blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.  #PursuePEACE. My Facebook page, Pursuing Peace – Thanks! And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er

[1] https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/asbury-bible-commentary/Imprecatory-Psalms

[2] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000, 82.

[3] Ibid, 83.

Prayer, Vengeance and Psalm 58

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, August 14, 2017

Psa 58-1, words

Prayer, Vengeance and Psalm 58

This sermon by Dietrich Bonhoeffer was written in 1937, just as the Gestapo were “tightening the net” around those ministers and seminary professors who protested against the Nazi regime in Germany. More than 800 of these members of the Confessing Church had been either imprisoned or taken under house arrest—for the “crime” of protesting against the regime. One example: a former seminarian at the secret seminary of Finkenwalde was arrested, and had “Evangelical Pastor” as his “crime,” written above the door of his cell.

The seminary at Finkenwalde was forcibly closed by the Gestapo in September 1937. Bonhoeffer wrote this sermon in response. (It was two more years before he actively joined the underground Resistance movement.) [1]

Sadly, how timely that this reading should be set for this time, next in the book. Given the horrors that happened this past weekend in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia with white supremacists and neo-Nazis openly marching and carrying swastikas and Nazi flags…

Bonhoeffer opens his sermon with a complete reading of Psalm 58, and then asks: “Is this fearful psalm of vengeance to be our prayer? May we pray in this way? Certainly not!” [2] No, Herr Pastor Bonhoeffer decries the sin that inhabits all of us. Our personal sin, “our spiritual indolence, our open or hidden disobedience.” [3]

Just as a good Lutheran pastor ought, Bonhoeffer reminds us of our personal guilt, and where each of us falls short. He follows this declaration with the crystal-clear fact that none of us is guilt-free, and none of us is truly able to pray this psalm. (As much as we may want to.)

True, we may desperately want to pray this imprecatory psalm, and especially those who were directly impacted by the horrific events in Virginia. Yet, Bonhoeffer says “No, we cannot pray this psalm. Not because we are too good for it (what a superficial idea, what colossal pride!), but because we are too sinful, too evil for it!” [4]

Dear Lord, deliver me—deliver us from the great sin of colossal pride. Reveal all the ways in which I have fallen short, and help me to amend my ways. Turn my thoughts to You, and lead me in the way everlasting. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.

[1] Meditating on the Word, Dietrich Bonhöffer, edited by David McI. Gracie. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Cowley Publications, 2000), 73-74.

[2] Ibid, 75.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid. 76.