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Learning to read the

imprecatory psalms
By Randal Rauser
www.randalrauser.com
Christians have long loved and
ƉƌĂLJĞĚƚŚĞƉƐĂůŵƐ͙
‡ Hymns/Praise
‡ Royal Psalms
‡ Thanksgiving Psalms
‡ Wisdom Psalms
‡ Mixed types
‡ Lament/Complaint
Christians have long loved and
ƉƌĂLJĞĚƚŚĞƉƐĂůŵƐ͙
‡ Hymns/Praise
‡ Royal Psalms
‡ Thanksgiving Psalms
‡ Wisdom Psalms
‡ Mixed types
‡ Lament/Complaint
1
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack
nothing.
2
He makes me lie down in green
pastures,
he leads me beside quiet
waters,
3
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right
paths
for his name's sake.
4
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6
Surely your goodness and love will
follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the
LORD forever.
1
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack
nothing.
2
He makes me lie down in green
pastures,
he leads me beside quiet
waters,
3
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right
paths
for his name's sake.
4
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6
Surely your goodness and love will
follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the
LORD forever.
Wait a minute. What is the psalmist
asking in verse 5?
1
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack
nothing.
2
He makes me lie down in green
pastures,
he leads me beside quiet
waters,
3
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right
paths
for his name's sake.
4
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6
Surely your goodness and love will
follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the
LORD forever.
Many scholars see in this passage a
vindictive wish to be honored over-against
ŽŶĞ͛ƐĞŶĞŵŝĞƐ͘dŚŝƐŵĂLJďĞĂŶ
ƵŶĚĞƌƐƚĂŶĚĂďůĞǁŝƐŚǁŚĞŶLJŽƵ͛ǀĞďĞĞŶ
oppressed, but is it a praiseworthy one?
1
You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.
2
You know when I sit and
when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts
from afar.
3
You discern my going out and
my lying down;
you are familiar with all
my ways.
4
Before a word is on my
tongue
you, LORD, know it
completely.
13
For you created my inmost
being;
you knit me together in my
mother's womb.
14
I praise you because I am
fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
Some of the better known
ƉŽƌƚŝŽŶƐŽĨƚŚĞƉƐĂůŵ͙
1
You have searched me, LORD,
and you know me.
2
You know when I sit and
when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts
from afar.
3
You discern my going out and
my lying down;
you are familiar with all
my ways.
4
Before a word is on my
tongue
you, LORD, know it
completely.
13
For you created my inmost
being;
you knit me together in my
mother's womb.
14
I praise you because I am
fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
21
Do I not hate those who hate
you, LORD,
and abhor those who are in
rebellion against you?
22
I have nothing but hatred for
them; I count them my enemies.
Some of the better known
ƉŽƌƚŝŽŶƐŽĨƚŚĞƉƐĂůŵ͙
But how many Christians fail to read verses
21 and 22?
11:5 ͞ƚŚĞ ǁŝĐŬĞĚ͕ ƚŚŽƐĞ ǁŚŽ ůŽǀĞ ǀŝŽůĞŶĐĞ͕
ŚĞ ŚĂƚĞƐ ǁŝƚŚ Ă ƉĂƐƐŝŽŶ͘͟
37:13 ͞ƚŚĞ LŽƌĚ ůĂƵŐŚƐ Ăƚ ƚŚĞ ǁŝĐŬĞĚ͕ ĨŽƌ ŚĞ
ŬŶŽǁƐ ƚŚĞŝƌ ĚĂLJ ŝƐ ĐŽŵŝŶŐ͘͟
52:6 ͞1ŚĞ ƌŝŐŚƚĞŽƵƐ ǁŝůů ƐĞĞ ĂŶĚ ĨĞĂƌ͖
ƚŚĞLJ ǁŝůů ůĂƵŐŚ Ăƚ LJŽƵ ΀ƚŚĞ ǁŝĐŬĞĚ΁͕͟
58:10 ͟1ŚĞ ƌŝŐŚƚĞŽƵƐ ǁŝůů ďĞ ŐůĂĚ ǁŚĞŶ
they are avenged, when they dip their
ĨĞĞƚ ŝŶ ƚŚĞ ďůŽŽĚ ŽĨ ƚŚĞ ǁŝĐŬĞĚ͘͟
69:23-24, 28 ͞MĂLJ ƚŚĞŝƌ ĞLJĞƐ ďĞ ĚĂƌŬĞŶĞĚ
so they cannot see, and their backs be
bent forever. Pour out your wrath on
them; let your fierce anger overtake
them. May they be blotted out of the
book of life and not be listed with the
ƌŝŐŚƚĞŽƵƐ͘͟
79:6 ͞ÞŽƵƌ ŽƵƚ LJŽƵƌ ǁƌĂƚŚ ŽŶ ƚŚĞ
nations that do not acknowledge
LJŽƵ͟
83:16-17 ͞Cover their faces with
shame, LORD, so that they will
seek your name. May they ever be
ashamed and dismayed; may they
ƉĞƌŝƐŚ ŝŶ ĚŝƐŐƌĂĐĞ͘͟
109:9-10 ͞May his children be
fatherless and his wife a widow.
May his children be wandering
beggars; may they be driven from
ƚŚĞŝƌ ƌƵŝŶĞĚ ŚŽŵĞƐ͘͟
And more including Psalms 5, 6, 12,
ϯϱ͕ϯϲ͕ϰϬ͕ϭϯϳ͕ϭϯϵ͕ϭϰϯ͙
‡ Many liberal Christians view the
Bible not as a divinely inspired
book but rather as a collection of
merely human texts.
‡ To the extent that we find a
portion of scripture inspiring we
can learn from it.
‡ But texts like the imprecatory
psalms are not inspiring. They are
simply wicked and cannot be
redeemed. Thus they should be
rejected.
But banishment is not an option
for those who accept the
inspiration of all scripture
‡ 2 TIMOTHY 3:16-17
All Scripture is God-
breathed and is
useful for teaching,
rebuking, correcting
and training in
righteousness, so
that all God's people
may be thoroughly
equipped for every
good work.
‡ Conservative Christians
accept in principle that all of
scripture is God-breathed.
‡ 8Ƶƚ ƚŚŝƐ ĚŽĞƐŶ͛ƚ ŵĞĂŶ ƚŚĞLJ
know what to do with the
imprecatory psalms.
‡ So, alas, these psalms tend to
get ignored. Although we are
ĂƐƐƵƌĞĚ ƚŚĂƚ ƚŚĞLJ ĂƌĞ ͞CŽĚ-
ďƌĞĂƚŚĞĚ͕͟ ƚŚĞLJ ĚŝĞ Ă ƐůŽǁ
death of neglect.
for those who accept the
inspiration of scripture the
brushoff is no better than
banishment
‡ According to the straightforward
embrace, we need to accept these
texts as God-breathed scripture.
‡ Since scripture is inerrant, this
means that we accept the moral
ĂƵƚŚŽƌŝƚLJ ŽĨ ƚŚĞ ŚƵŵĂŶ ĂƵƚŚŽƌ͛Ɛ
assertions, even when he expresses
hatred of enemies.
‡ Thus, these texts teach us that
sometimes it is appropriate to hate
our enemies and even long for
their destruction.
John Piper
͞Ž/ŶŽƚŚĂƚĞƚŚŽƐĞǁŚŽŚĂƚĞLJŽƵ͕K>ŽƌĚ͍͟
‡ Pastor and theologian John Piper has
provided a vigorous defence of the
straightforward embrace view.
‡ Piper avers that the psalmist only hates
his enemy after his love has been
spurned. Piper also proposes that the
hatred is not personal but rather is a
ŵŽƌĂů ƌĞƉƵŐŶĂŶĐĞ ƚŽǁĂƌĚ ƚŚĞ ĞŶĞŵLJ͛Ɛ
evil actions.
‡ Piper adds that eventually mercy must be replaced by
wrath and judgment
‡ Piper also points out that Jesus and Paul ĚŝĚŶ͛ƚ
repudiate the imprecatory psalms. In fact, they prayed
portions of them.
For instance, when should we move from loving
our enemies to hating them?
When is it appropriate to hope that the names
of our enemies are blotted out of the book of
life (i.e. that they go to hell)?
How can it be right to wish destruction on the
children of our enemies?
WŚĞŶ ŝƐ ŝƚ ĂƉƉƌŽƉƌŝĂƚĞ ƚŽ ͞ůĂƵŐŚ͟ Ăƚ ŽƵƌ
ĞŶĞŵŝĞƐ͛ ŝŵƉĞŶĚŝŶŐ ĚĞŵŝƐĞ͍
PŽǁ ĐĂŶ CŽĚ ͞ůĂƵŐŚ͟ Ăƚ ƚŚĞ ŝŵƉĞŶĚŝŶŐ ĚĞŵŝƐĞ
of our enemies when Ezekiel 18:23 declares that
he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked?
‡ According to the qualified
embrace, we accept these texts as
God-breathed scripture, but that
does not mean the human author
is morally inerrant.
‡ In fact, other texts ʹ most
importantly those recounting the
life and teachings of Jesus ʹ are
ŝŶĐŽŵƉĂƚŝďůĞ ǁŝƚŚ ƚŚĞ ƉƐĂůŵŝƐƚ͛Ɛ
perspective.
‡ Thus, we should recognize the
psalmist is in error and that God
included his voice for other
reasons.
‡ dŚĞƌŽƚŚĞƌƐ͛<ĂƌĂŵĂnjŽǀis one
of the greatest novels of all time.
Within the book you meet the
character of Ivan Karamazov, an
atheist, who gives one of the
most eloquent arguments for
atheism ever written.
‡ lǀĂŶ͛Ɛ ǀŽŝĐĞ ŝƐ ŝƌƌĞĐŽŶĐŝůĂďůĞ ǁŝƚŚ
that of his brother Alyosha, the
devout Christian.
‡ So why are they both in the
book?
‡ In fact, the author Fyodor
Dostoevsky (who was a devout
Christian) included both
AůLJŽƐŚĂ͛Ɛ perspective and that of
Ivan to make a stronger novel.
‡ So the suggestion is that the
ƉƐĂůŵŝƐƚ͛Ɛ ĐƵƌƐĞƐ ŵŝŐŚƚ ďĞůŽŶŐ ŝŶ
the Bible just like Ivan belongs in
The Brothers Karamazov: not
because those curses are
themselves inerrant, but rather
because they play a pivotal role
in the whole book.
C.S. Lewis held a view like this. He
wrote on the cursing psalms:
͞΀W΁Ğ ŵƵƐƚ ŶŽƚ ĞŝƚŚĞƌ ƚƌLJ ƚŽ
explain them away or to yield for
one moment to the idea that,
because it comes in the Bible, all
this vindictive hatred must
ƐŽŵĞŚŽǁ ďĞ ŐŽŽĚ ĂŶĚ ƉŝŽƵƐ͘͟
Reflections on the
Psalms, 22
Later in his book Reflections on the
Psalms Lewis adds:
͞1ŚĞ ŚƵŵĂŶ ƋƵĂůŝƚŝĞƐ ŽĨ ƚŚĞ ƌĂǁ ŵĂƚĞƌŝĂůƐ
show through. Naivety, error,
contradiction, even (as in the cursing
Psalms) wickedness are not removed.
1ŚĞ ƚŽƚĂů ƌĞƐƵůƚ ŝƐ ŶŽƚ ͚ƚŚĞ WŽƌĚ ŽĨ CŽĚ͛ ŝŶ
the sense that every passage, in itself,
gives impeccable science or history [or,
presumably, morality]. It carries the Word
ŽĨ CŽĚ ͖ ĂŶĚ ǁĞ ͙ ƌĞĐĞŝǀĞ ƚŚĂƚ ǁŽƌĚ ĨƌŽŵ
it not by using it as an encyclopedia or an
encyclical but by steeping ourselves in its
tone or temper and so learning its overall
message.͟
Reflections on
the Psalms, 112
‡ We all know that texts can have
different levels of meaning. Allegory is
a great example. Animal Farm is, on
ŽŶĞ ůĞǀĞů͕ Ă ĨĂŶĐŝĨƵů ĐŚŝůĚƌĞŶ͛Ɛ ƐƚŽƌLJ͘
But it also a profound narrative of the
communist revolution.
‡ When it comes to scripture we can
identify two basic levels of meaning.
‡ The sensus litteralis refers to the
intentions of the human authors in
writing the text. And then there is the
sensus plenior. This is the meaning
that God gives to a text.
LĞƚ͛Ɛ ĞdžƉůŽƌĞ ƚŚŝƐ ĚŝƐƚŝŶĐƚŝŽŶ
between senses of scripture further
‡ It is important to see that the sensus litteralis can often
differ from the sensus plenior.
‡ CŽŶƐŝĚĞƌ ĨŽƌ ŝŶƐƚĂŶĐĞ Ă ƉĂƐƐĂŐĞ ůŝŬĞ PŽƐĞĂ ϭϭ͗ϭ͗ ͞WŚĞŶ
Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called
ŵLJ ƐŽŶ͘͟ PŽƐĞĂ ĐůĞĂƌůLJ ƚŚŽƵŐŚƚ ƚŚĂƚ ƚŚŝƐ ĂƉƉůŝĞĚ ƚŽ
Israel being called out of Egypt. That is the sensus
litteralis of the text.
‡ 8Ƶƚ ŝŶ MĂƚƚŚĞǁ Ϯ͗ϭϱ MĂƚƚŚĞǁ ǁƌŝƚĞƐ͗ ͞AŶĚ ƐŽ ǁĂƐ
fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet:
͚CƵƚ ŽĨ LŐLJƉƚ l ĐĂůůĞĚ ŵLJ ƐŽŶ͛͘͟
‡ Matthew is identifying here the sensus plenior as he
ƉŽŝŶƚƐ ŽƵƚ ƚŚĂƚ ƚŚĞ ĨƵůůĞƌ ƐĞŶƐĞ ŽĨ PŽƐĞĂ͛Ɛ ǁŽƌĚƐ ǁĞƌĞ
not referring to Israel but to Jesus.
‡ Paul makes a similar point when he writes in 2
CŽƌŝŶƚŚŝĂŶƐ ϭ͗ϮϬ͗ ͞lŽƌ ŶŽ ŵĂƚƚĞƌ ŚŽǁ ŵĂŶLJ
ƉƌŽŵŝƐĞƐ CŽĚ ŚĂƐ ŵĂĚĞ͕ ƚŚĞLJ ĂƌĞ ͚?ĞƐ͛ ŝŶ CŚƌŝƐƚ͘͟
‡ In other words, the sensus litteralis of Old
Testament prophecies relating to such things as
land, temple, and kingdom find their sensus
plenior fulfillment in Christ.
‡ So the basic idea is that we need to read the
ƉƐĂůŵƐ ǁŝƚŚ ƚŚĞ ƐĂŵĞ ĂǁĂƌĞŶĞƐƐ ŽĨ ƚŚĞ ͞ĨƵůůĞƌ
ƐĞŶƐĞ͟ ƚŚĂƚ ŐƵŝĚĞƐ ŽƵƌ ƌĞĂĚŝŶŐ ŽĨ ƉƌŽƉŚĞĐLJ͘
‡ Does this work? After all, we are not simply going
beyond what the psalmist says as Matthew or
Paul go beyond what the Old Testament says.
‡ Rather, in the present case we are saying that
what the psalmist wrote was, in certain respects,
wrong, immoral, evil.
‡ And what does this mean for the doctrine of
inerrancy, the doctrine that says scripture does
not affirm anything contrary to fact?
‡ SŽ ĂƌĞŶ͛ƚ ǁĞ ƐĂLJŝŶŐ ƚŚĂƚ ƚŚĞ ƉƐĂůŵŝƐƚ ǁĂƐ ǁƌŽŶŐ
and thus the Bible is errant?
‡ So the sun stood
still,
and the moon
stopped,
till the nation
avenged itself on
its enemies,
as it is written
in the Book of
Jashar.
The sun
stopped in the
middle of the sky
and delayed going
down about a full
day.
In response, we can note
that it is a simple fact that
there are some errors in the
sensus litteralis. Consider
the narration of Joshua in
10:13:
‡ So the sun stood
still,
and the moon
stopped,
till the nation
avenged itself on
its enemies,
as it is written
in the Book of
Jashar.
The sun
stopped in the
middle of the sky
and delayed going
down about a full
day.
In response, we can note
that it is a simple fact that
there are some errors in the
sensus litteralis. Consider
the narration of Joshua in
10:13:
The writer of Joshua
believed that the sun
revolved around the earth
and so he described the sun
stopping. But that is an
error of science and history:
if anything stopped on that
day it was the earth.
‡ No. God knew full well that geocentrismwas false. So
even if the sensus litteralis might have some errors in
recording science and history, the fuller sensus plenior
does not.
‡ With that in mind, is it possible that the human sensus
litteralis might also have moral errors and that God
included them to make a greater point, just like
Dostoevsky included the voice of Ivan?
‡ No. God knew full well that geocentrismwas false. So
even if the sensus litteralis might have some errors in
recording science and history, the fuller sensus plenior
does not.
‡ With that in mind, is it possible that the human sensus
litteralis might also have moral errors and that God
included them to make a greater point, just like
Dostoevsky included the voice of Ivan?
That proposal leads us to
ask how we decide where
the errors lie. In response
we should remember
LĞǁŝƐ͛Ɛ ǁŽƌĚƐ͗
‡ No. God knew full well that geocentrismwas false. So
even if the sensus litteralis might have some errors in
recording science and history, the fuller sensus plenior
does not.
‡ With that in mind, is it possible that the human sensus
litteralis might also have moral errors and that God
included them to make a greater point, just like
Dostoevsky included the voice of Ivan?
͘͘͘͞ƐƚĞĞƉ ŽƵƌƐĞůǀĞƐ ŝŶ ƚŚĞ
8ŝďůĞ͛Ɛ ƚŽŶĞ Žƌ ƚĞŵƉĞƌ ĂŶĚ
so learn its overall
message.͟
That proposal leads us to
ask how we decide where
the errors lie. In response
we should remember
LĞǁŝƐ͛Ɛ ǁŽƌĚƐ͗
‡ Matthew 5:43-7
‡ "You have heard that it was said,
'Love your neighbor and hate your
enemy.'
44
But I tell you, love your
enemies and pray for those who
persecute you,
45
that you may be
children of your Father in heaven.
He causes his sun to rise on the
evil and the good, and sends rain
on the righteous and the
unrighteous.
46
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?
Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
47
And if you greet
only your own people, what are you doing more than others?
uŽ ŶŽƚ ĞǀĞŶ ƉĂŐĂŶƐ ĚŽ ƚŚĂƚ͍͟
‡ Matthew 5:43-7
‡ "You have heard that it was said,
'Love your neighbor and hate your
enemy.'
44
But I tell you, love your
enemies and pray for those who
persecute you,
45
that you may be
children of your Father in heaven.
He causes his sun to rise on the
evil and the good, and sends rain
on the righteous and the
unrighteous.
46
If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?
Are not even the tax collectors doing that?
47
And if you greet
only your own people, what are you doing more than others?
uŽ ŶŽƚ ĞǀĞŶ ƉĂŐĂŶƐ ĚŽ ƚŚĂƚ͍͟
It seems that Jesus speaks against the imprecatory
psalmist in his words and in his death on the cross.
So where do we go from here?
‡ If the cursing psalmist was wrong in
expressing his judgment on his enemies, then
why was his voice included at all?
So where do we go from here?
‡ If the cursing psalmist was wrong in
expressing his judgment on his enemies, then
why was his voice included at all?
‡ Good question. One possible reason for God
ŝŶĐůƵĚŝŶŐ ƚŚŝƐ ǀŽŝĐĞ ŝƐ ŝƌŽŶLJ͕ ͞ƚŚĞ ƵƐĞ ŽĨ ǁŽƌĚƐ
to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its
ůŝƚĞƌĂů ŵĞĂŶŝŶŐ͘͟
What does irony look like?
‡ A classic example of irony is
!ŽŶĂƚŚĂŶ SǁŝĨƚ͛Ɛ ͞A MŽĚĞƐƚ
ÞƌŽƉŽƐĂů͟ ŝŶ ǁŚŝĐŚ ŚĞ
proposed that the Irish could
slaughter and sell their children
ĨŽƌ ŵĞĂƚ͘ SǁŝĨƚ͛Ɛ ƌĞĂů ƉŽŝŶƚ ǁĂƐ
to use irony to condemn the
way that the English were
abusing the Irish, treating them
as if they were mere animals.
He made the point effectively
with irony.
AŶŽƚŚĞƌ ĞdžĂŵƉůĞ ŝƐ CƌĂŶĞ͛Ɛ ŶŽǀĞů The Red
Badge of Courage which tells the story of how
Henry Fleming became a man in the civil war:
°He felt a quiet manhood,
nonassertive but of
sturdy and strong blood.
He knew that he would no
more quail before his
guides wherever they
should point. He had been
to touch the great death,
and found that, after
all, it was but the great
death. He was a man.¨
AŶŽƚŚĞƌ ĞdžĂŵƉůĞ ŝƐ CƌĂŶĞ͛Ɛ ŶŽǀĞů The Red
Badge of Courage which tells the story of how
Henry Fleming became a man in the civil war:
°He felt a quiet manhood,
nonassertive but of
sturdy and strong blood.
He knew that he would no
more quail before his
guides wherever they
should point. He had been
to touch the great death,
and found that, after
all, it was but the great
death. He was a man.¨
However, most critics agree that Crane intended the
ŶĂƌƌĂƚŽƌ͛Ɛ ĐŽŵŵĞŶƚĂƌLJ ƚŽ ďĞ ŝƌŽŶŝĐ͘ lůĞŵŝŶŐ ŝƐ ĂĐƚƵĂůůLJ
an anti-hero and remains in the end a mental child.
‡ So the idea is that just as
Crane includes the
ŶĂƌƌĂƚŽƌ͛Ɛ ǀŽŝĐĞ ƚŽ ŵĂŬĞ Ă
greater ironic point, God
might have included the
ŝŵƉƌĞĐĂƚŽƌLJ ƉƐĂůŵŝƐƚ͛Ɛ
voice to make a greater
ironic point.
WŝƚŚ ƚŚĂƚ ŝŶ ŵŝŶĚ͕ CĂƌŽůLJŶ SŚĂƌƉ ĂƐŬƐ͙
͞lŶ ǁŚĂƚ ǁĂLJƐ ŵŝŐŚƚ Ă ƐĂĐƌĞĚ ƚĞdžƚ ďĞ
understood as authoritative when the
meaning of the text is located not in what it
says but in the shadowy, sharp-edged realm of
ǁŚĂƚ ŝƚ ĚŽĞƐ ŶŽƚ ƐĂLJ͍͟
Irony and
Meaning in the
Hebrew Bible
(Indiana
University
Press, 2009), 8.
WŝƚŚ ƚŚĂƚ ŝŶ ŵŝŶĚ͕ CĂƌŽůLJŶ SŚĂƌƉ ĂƐŬƐ͙
͞lŶ ǁŚĂƚ ǁĂLJƐ ŵŝŐŚƚ Ă ƐĂĐƌĞĚ ƚĞdžƚ ďĞ
understood as authoritative when the
meaning of the text is located not in what it
says but in the shadowy, sharp-edged realm of
ǁŚĂƚ ŝƚ ĚŽĞƐ ŶŽƚ ƐĂLJ͍͟
1ŚĂƚ͛Ɛ Ă ĨĂƐĐŝŶĂƚŝŶŐ ƋƵĞƐƚŝŽŶ͕ ƚŚĂƚ ŝŶ ƐŽŵĞ
cases the inspiration and authority of scripture
lies in something contrary to what the human
author asserts.
Irony and
Meaning in the
Hebrew Bible
(Indiana
University
Press, 2009), 8.
But what is irony doing in the Bible?
Sharp suggests that
‡ ͞lƌŽŶLJ ŝŶ ĂŶĐŝĞŶƚ lƐƌĂĞůŝƚĞ ůŝƚĞƌĂƚƵƌĞ
serves as a many-edged tool for the
destabilization of the overconfident
ƐƵďũĞĐƚ͙͘͟
Irony and
Meaning in the
Hebrew Bible
(Indiana
University
Press, 2009), 8.
What would that destabilization look
ůŝŬĞ͍ LĞƚ͛Ɛ ƚĂŬĞ Ă ůŽŽŬ Ăƚ Ă ĚĞĞƉůLJ
ŝƌŽŶŝĐ ƐŝƚƵĂƚŝŽŶ ŝŶ ƐĐƌŝƉƚƵƌĞ͙
2 Samuel 12
‡ David has committed adultery and murder but has not
yet admitted his sin, so Nathan tells David a story...
‡
4
"Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man
refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to
prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him.
Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor
man and prepared it for the one who had come to him."
‡
5
David burned with anger against the man and said to
Nathan, "As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did
this must die!
6
He must pay for that lamb four times over,
because he did such a thing and had no pity."
7
1Len MatLan saio to Lavio, ԠYou are tLe man!ԡ
This is a great illustration of the power of irony. Nathan set David
up by placing him in an ironic situation where he was
condemning another for the very crimes he had committed.
8ĞŵĞŵďĞƌ SŚĂƌƉ͛Ɛ ĐŽŵŵĞŶƚ͍
͞lƌŽŶLJ ŝŶ ĂŶĐŝĞŶƚ lƐƌĂĞůŝƚĞ ůŝƚĞƌĂƚƵƌĞ ƐĞƌǀĞƐ ĂƐ Ă ŵĂŶLJ-edged tool
ĨŽƌ ƚŚĞ ĚĞƐƚĂďŝůŝnjĂƚŝŽŶ ŽĨ ƚŚĞ ŽǀĞƌĐŽŶĨŝĚĞŶƚ ƐƵďũĞĐƚ͙͘͟
In other words, David is caught off guard by the irony of the
situation in which he finds himself, and this leads to his
repentance.
‡ So it could be that God incorporated the
imprecatory psalms into the canon in order to
illustrate through the psalmist the ironic
situation of one who, though shown grace,
refuses to extend it to others. Through the
lens of Jesus we can look at the psalmist and
ƐĂLJ ͞LJŽƵ ĂƌĞ ƚŚĂƚ ŵĂŶ͘͟ 8Ƶƚ ƚŚĞ ƌĞĂů ůĞƐƐŽŶ ŝƐ
to turn the text back on ourselves, for the
ƉƐĂůŵŝƐƚ͛Ɛ ƌĂŐĞ ŝƐ Ă ŵŝƌƌŽƌ ĨŽƌ ƵƐ Ăůů͘
By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
2
There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
3
for there our captors asked us for
songs,
our tormentors demanded songs
of joy;
they said, "Sing us one of the
songs of Zion!"
4
How can we sing the songs of the
LORD
while in a foreign land?
5
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its
skill.
6
May my tongue cling to the roof of my
mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
my highest joy.
7
Remember, LORD, what the Edomites
did
on the day Jerusalem fell.
"Tear it down," they cried,
"tear it down to its foundations!"
8
Daughter Babylon, doomed to
destruction,
happy are those who repay you
according to what you have done
to us.
9
Happy are those who seize your infants
and dash them against the rocks.
By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
2
There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
3
for there our captors asked us for
songs,
our tormentors demanded songs
of joy;
they said, "Sing us one of the
songs of Zion!"
4
How can we sing the songs of the
LORD
while in a foreign land?
5
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its
skill.
6
May my tongue cling to the roof of my
mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
my highest joy.
7
Remember, LORD, what the Edomites
did
on the day Jerusalem fell.
"Tear it down," they cried,
"tear it down to its foundations!"
8
Daughter Babylon, doomed to
destruction,
happy are those who repay you
according to what you have done
to us.
9
Happy are those who seize your infants
and dash them against the rocks.
By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
2
There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
3
for there our captors asked us for
songs,
our tormentors demanded songs
of joy;
they said, "Sing us one of the
songs of Zion!"
4
How can we sing the songs of the
LORD
while in a foreign land?
5
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its
skill.
6
May my tongue cling to the roof of my
mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
my highest joy.
7
Remember, LORD, what the Edomites
did
on the day Jerusalem fell.
"Tear it down," they cried,
"tear it down to its foundations!"
8
Daughter Babylon, doomed to
destruction,
happy are those who repay you
according to what you have done
to us.
9
Happy are those who seize your infants
and dash them against the rocks.
By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
2
There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
3
for there our captors asked us for
songs,
our tormentors demanded songs
of joy;
they said, "Sing us one of the
songs of Zion!"
4
How can we sing the songs of the
LORD
while in a foreign land?
5
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its
skill.
6
May my tongue cling to the roof of my
mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
my highest joy.
7
Remember, LORD, what the Edomites
did
on the day Jerusalem fell.
"Tear it down," they cried,
"tear it down to its foundations!"
8
Daughter Babylon, doomed to
destruction,
happy are those who repay you
according to what you have done
to us.
9
Happy are those who seize your infants
and dash them against the rocks.
By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
2
There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
3
for there our captors asked us for
songs,
our tormentors demanded songs
of joy;
they said, "Sing us one of the
songs of Zion!"
4
How can we sing the songs of the
LORD
while in a foreign land?
5
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its
skill.
6
May my tongue cling to the roof of my
mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
my highest joy.
7
Remember, LORD, what the Edomites
did
on the day Jerusalem fell.
"Tear it down," they cried,
"tear it down to its foundations!"
8
Daughter Babylon, doomed to
destruction,
happy are those who repay you
according to what you have done
to us.
9
Happy are those who seize your infants
and dash them against the rocks.
Remember again the words of Jesus
"You have heard that it
was said, 'Love your
neighbor and hate
your enemy.' But I tell
you, love your enemies
and pray for those
who persecute you,
that you may be
children of your
Father in EB>SBKe

Christians  have  long  loved  and  
Hymns/Praise Royal  Psalms Thanksgiving  Psalms Wisdom  Psalms Mixed  types Lament/Complaint

Christians  have  long  loved  and  
Hymns/Praise Royal  Psalms Thanksgiving  Psalms Wisdom  Psalms Mixed  types Lament/Complaint

1

The  LORD  is  my  shepherd,  I  lack   nothing.   2 He  makes  me  lie  down  in  green   pastures,   he  leads  me  beside  quiet   waters,   3 he  refreshes  my  soul.   He  guides  me  along  the  right   paths   for  his  name's  sake.   4 Even  though  I  walk   through  the  darkest  valley,     I  will  fear  no  evil,   for  you  are  with  me;   your  rod  and  your  staff,   they  comfort  me.  

You  prepare  a  table  before  me   in  the  presence  of  my  enemies.   You  anoint  my  head  with  oil;   my  cup  overflows.   6 Surely  your  goodness  and  love  will         follow  me   all  the  days  of  my  life,   and  I  will  dwell  in  the  house  of  the   LORD  forever.  

5

 I  lack   5 You  prepare  a  table  before  me   nothing.   He  guides  me  along  the  right   follow  me   all  the  days  of  my  life.   they  comfort  me.   asking  in  verse  5? for  you  are  with  me.   through  the  darkest  valley.   pastures.   2 He  makes  me  lie  down  in  green   in  the  presence  of  my  enemies.  What  is  the  psalmist   I  will  fear  no  evil.   paths   for  his  name's  sake.   You  anoint  my  head  with  oil.     Wait  a  minute.1 The  LORD  is  my  shepherd.   6 Surely  your  goodness  and  love  will         3 he  refreshes  my  soul.   .   he  leads  me  beside  quiet   my  cup  overflows.   your  rod  and  your  staff.   waters.   and  I  will  dwell  in  the  house  of  the   4 Even  though  I  walk   LORD  forever.

1 The  LORD  is  my  shepherd.   for  you  are  with  me.   pastures.   You  anoint  my  head  with  oil.   oppressed.   paths   for  his  name's  sake.   they  comfort  me.   waters.   through  the  darkest  valley.  but  is  it  a  praiseworthy one? .   He  guides  me  along  the  right   follow  me   all  the  days  of  my  life.   he  leads  me  beside  quiet   my  cup  overflows.   6 Surely  your  goodness  and  love  will         3 he  refreshes  my  soul.   2 He  makes  me  lie  down  in  green   in  the  presence  of  my  enemies.   vindictive  wish  to  be  honored  over-­‐against   your  rod  and  your  staff.   and  I  will  dwell  in  the  house  of  the   4 Even  though  I  walk   LORD  forever.  I  lack   5 You  prepare  a  table  before  me   nothing.     Many  scholars  see  in  this  passage  a   I  will  fear  no  evil.

  2 You  know  when  I  sit  and   when  I  rise.   and  you  know  me.   4 Before  a  word  is  on  my   tongue   you.  LORD.   your  works  are  wonderful.   13 .   3 You  discern  my  going  out  and   my  lying  down.   For  you  created  my  inmost   being.   you  perceive  my  thoughts   from  afar.   I  know  that  full  well.  LORD.   14 I  praise  you  because  I  am   fearfully  and  wonderfully  made.  know  it   completely.   you  are  familiar  with  all   my  ways.   you  knit  me  together  in  my   mother's  womb.Some  of  the  better  known   1 You  have  searched  me.

 I  count  them  my  enemies.Some  of  the  better  known   1 You  have  searched  me.   your  works  are  wonderful.   For  you  created  my  inmost   being.  know  it   completely.   13 .   2 You  know  when  I  sit  and   when  I  rise.   rebellion  against  you?   22 I  have  nothing  but  hatred  for   them.  LORD.   you  perceive  my  thoughts   from  afar.   21 Do  I  not  hate  those  who  hate   4 Before  a  word  is  on  my   you.   3 You  discern  my  going  out  and   my  lying  down.   I  know  that  full  well.   you  are  familiar  with  all   But  how  many  Christians fail  to  read  verses   21  and  22? my  ways.   tongue   and  abhor  those  who  are  in   you.   14 I  praise  you  because  I  am   fearfully  and  wonderfully  made.   and  you  know  me.  LORD.   you  knit  me  together  in  my   mother's  womb.  LORD.

.

 May  they  ever  be   ashamed  and  dismayed.  May  they  be  blotted  out  of  the   book  of  life  and  not  be  listed  with  the   And  more  including  Psalms  5.  so  that  they  will   seek  your  name.  let  your  fierce  anger  overtake   them.  6.   .   May  his  children  be  wandering     beggars.  may  they   109:9-­‐10 May  his  children  be   fatherless  and  his  wife  a  widow.  Pour  out  your  wrath  on   them.  12.  when  they  dip  their   69:23-­‐24.  LORD.    may  they  be  driven  from   52:6 58:10   they  are  avenged.  28 so  they  cannot  see.  and  their  backs  be   bent  forever.11:5 37:13   79:6 nations  that  do  not  acknowledge   83:16-­‐17 Cover  their  faces  with         shame.

.

 Thus  they  should  be   rejected.   .  They  are   simply  wicked  and  cannot  be   redeemed.Many  liberal  Christians  view  the   Bible  not  as  a  divinely  inspired   book  but  rather  as  a  collection  of   merely  human  texts.   But  texts  like  the  imprecatory   psalms  are  not  inspiring.   To  the  extent  that  we  find  a   portion  of  scripture  inspiring  we   can  learn  from  it.

rebuking. correcting and training in righteousness.But banishment is not an option for those who accept the inspiration of all scripture 2  TtIiMmOoTtHhYy  3:16-17   All Scripture is Godbreathed and is useful for teaching. so that all God's people may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. .

Conservative  Christians   accept  in  principle  that  all  of   scripture  is  God-­‐breathed. know  what  to  do  with  the   imprecatory  psalms.   So.  alas.  these  psalms  tend  to   get  ignored.  Although  we  are   -­‐ death  of  neglect.     .

for those who accept the inspiration of scripture the brushoff is no better than banishment .

Since  scripture  is  inerrant.  we  need  to  accept  these   texts  as  God-­‐breathed  scripture. Thus.  these  texts  teach  us  that   sometimes  it  is  appropriate  to  hate   our  enemies  and  even  long  for     their  destruction.  this   means  that  we  accept  the  moral   assertions.According  to  the  straightforward   embrace.  even  when  he  expresses   hatred  of  enemies. .

  Piper  adds  that  eventually  mercy  must  be  replaced  by   wrath  and  judgment Piper  also  points  out  that  Jesus  and  Paul   repudiate the  imprecatory  psalms.  they  prayed   portions  of  them. .John  Piper Pastor  and  theologian  John  Piper  has   provided  a  vigorous  defence  of  the   straightforward  embrace  view.  In  fact. Piper  avers  that  the  psalmist  only  hates   his  enemy  after  his  love  has  been   spurned.  Piper  also  proposes  that  the   hatred  is  not  personal  but  rather  is  a   evil  actions.

For  instance.e.  when  should  we  move  from  loving   our  enemies  to  hating  them? When  is  it  appropriate  to  hope  that  the  names   of  our  enemies  are  blotted  out  of  the  book  of   life  (i.  that  they  go  to  hell)? How  can  it  be  right  to  wish  destruction  on  the   children of  our  enemies? of  our  enemies  when  Ezekiel  18:23  declares  that   he  takes  no  pleasure  in  the  death  of  the  wicked?   .

According  to  the  qualified   embrace.  we  accept  these  texts  as   God-­‐breathed  scripture.  but  that   does  not  mean  the  human  author   is  morally  inerrant. In  fact. .  we  should  recognize  the   psalmist  is  in  error  and  that  God   included  his  voice  for  other   reasons.  other  texts   most   importantly  those  recounting  the   life  and  teachings  of  Jesus   are   perspective. Thus.

 the   devout  Christian.is  one   of  the  greatest  novels  of  all  time.   So  why  are  they  both  in  the   book? .   Within  the  book  you  meet  the   character  of  Ivan  Karamazov. that  of  his  brother  Alyosha.  an   atheist.  who  gives  one  of  the   most  eloquent  arguments  for   atheism  ever  written.

  So  the  suggestion  is  that  the   the  Bible  just  like  Ivan  belongs  in   The  Brothers  Karamazov: not   because  those  curses  are   themselves  inerrant.  the  author  Fyodor   Dostoevsky  (who  was  a  devout   Christian)  included  both   perspective  and  that  of   Ivan  to  make  a  stronger  novel.  but  rather   because  they  play  a  pivotal  role   in  the  whole  book. .In  fact.

  because  it  comes  in  the  Bible.  all   this  vindictive  hatred  must   Reflections  on  the   Psalms.  Lewis  held  a  view  like  this.  He   wrote  on  the  cursing  psalms: explain  them  away  or  to  yield  for   one  moment  to  the  idea  that.  22 .C.S.

  presumably.  112 it  not  by  using  it  as  an  encyclopedia or  an   encyclical  but  by  steeping  ourselves  in  its   tone  or  temper  and  so  learning  its  overall   message.  morality].Later  in  his  book  Reflections  on  the   Psalms Lewis  adds: show  through.   gives  impeccable  science  or  history  [or.  even  (as  in  the  cursing   Psalms)  wickedness  are  not  removed.  in  itself.   contradiction.  It  carries  the  Word   Reflections  on   the  Psalms.  error.  Naivety.   the  sense  that  every  passage. .

  The  sensus litteralis refers  to  the   intentions  of  the  human  authors  in   writing  the  text. . When  it  comes  to  scripture  we  can   identify  two  basic  levels  of  meaning.  on   But  it  also  a  profound  narrative  of  the   communist  revolution.  Allegory  is   a  great  example.  This  is  the  meaning   that  God  gives  to  a  text.  And  then  there  is  the   sensus plenior.We  all  know  that  texts  can  have   different  levels  of  meaning.  Animal  Farm  is.

 I  loved  him. fulfilled  what  the  Lord  had  said  through  the  prophet:   Matthew  is  identifying  here  the  sensus plenior as  he   not  referring  to  Israel  but  to  Jesus.  That  is  the  sensus litteralis of  the  text.   Israel  was  a  child.between  senses  of  scripture  further It  is  important  to  see  that  the  sensus litteralis can  often   differ  from  the  sensus plenior.  and  out  of  Egypt  I  called   Israel  being  called  out  of  Egypt. .

 the  sensus litteralis of  Old   Testament  prophecies  relating  to  such  things  as   land.  temple.  and  kingdom  find  their  sensus plenior fulfillment  in  Christ.Paul  makes  a  similar  point  when  he  writes  in    2   In  other  words.   So  the  basic  idea  is  that  we  need  to  read  the   .

 immoral. Rather.   wrong.  the  doctrine  that  says  scripture  does   not  affirm  anything  contrary  to  fact? and  thus  the  Bible  is  errant? .  in  certain  respects.  in  the  present  case  we  are  saying  that   what  the  psalmist  wrote  was.  we  are  not  simply  going   beyond  what  the  psalmist  says  as  Matthew  or   Paul  go  beyond  what  the  Old  Testament  says. And  what  does  this  mean  for  the  doctrine  of   inerrancy.Does  this  work?  After  all.  evil.

  The  sun   stopped  in  the   middle  of  the  sky   and  delayed  going   down  about  a  full   day.   and  the  moon   stopped.  Consider   the  narration  of  Joshua  in   10:13: So  the  sun  stood   still.In  response. .   as  it  is  written   in  the  Book  of   Jashar.  we  can  note   that  it  is  a  simple  fact  that   there  are  some  errors  in  the   sensus litteralis.   till  the  nation   avenged  itself  on   its  enemies.

 we  can  note   that  it  is  a  simple  fact  that   there  are  some  errors  in  the   sensus litteralis.  Consider   the  narration  of  Joshua  in   10:13: The  writer  of  Joshua   believed  that  the  sun   revolved  around  the  earth   and  so  he  described  the  sun   stopping.   till  the  nation   avenged  itself  on   its  enemies.   The  sun   stopped  in  the   middle  of  the  sky   and  delayed  going   down  about  a  full   day.   and  the  moon   stopped.    But  that  is  an   error of  science  and  history:   if  anything  stopped  on  that   day  it  was  the  earth.In  response. . So  the  sun  stood   still.   as  it  is  written   in  the  Book  of   Jashar.

  With  that  in  mind.  God  knew  full  well  that  geocentrism was  false.No.  just  like   Dostoevsky  included  the  voice  of  Ivan? .  So   even  if  the  sensus litteralis might  have  some  errors  in   recording  science  and  history.  the  fuller  sensus plenior does  not.  is  it  possible  that  the  human  sensus litteralis might  also  have  moral  errors  and  that  God   included  them  to  make  a  greater  point.

 So   even  if  the  sensus litteralis might  have  some  errors  in   recording  science  and  history.No.  In  response   we  should  remember   .  is  it  possible  that  the  human  sensus litteralis might  also  have  moral  errors  and  that  God   included  them  to  make  a  greater  point.  God  knew  full  well  that  geocentrism was  false.  just  like   Dostoevsky  included  the  voice  of  Ivan? That  proposal  leads us  to   ask  how  we  decide  where   the  errors  lie.  the  fuller  sensus plenior does  not.   With  that  in  mind.

  With  that  in  mind.  God  knew  full  well  that  geocentrism was  false.  is  it  possible  that  the  human  sensus litteralis might  also  have  moral  errors  and  that  God   included  them  to  make  a  greater  point. .  In  response   we  should  remember   so  learn  its  overall   message.  the  fuller  sensus plenior does  not.  So   even  if  the  sensus litteralis might  have  some  errors  in   recording  science  and  history.No.  just  like   Dostoevsky  included  the  voice  of  Ivan? That  proposal  leads us  to   ask  how  we  decide  where   the  errors  lie.

 and  sends  rain   on  the  righteous  and  the   unrighteous.  what  reward  will  you  get?   Are  not  even  the  tax  collectors  doing  that?  47 And  if  you  greet   only  your  own  people.   46 If  you  love  those  who  love  you.'  44 But  I  tell  you.Matthew  5:43-­‐7 "You  have  heard  that  it  was  said.  what  are  you  doing  more  than  others?   .   'Love  your  neighbor  and  hate  your   enemy.  love  your   enemies  and  pray  for  those  who   persecute  you.  45 that  you  may  be   children  of  your  Father  in  heaven.   He  causes  his  sun  to  rise  on  the   evil  and  the  good.

 45 that  you  may  be   children  of  your  Father  in  heaven.  and  sends  rain   on  the  righteous  and  the   unrighteous.  love  your   enemies  and  pray  for  those  who   persecute  you.   He  causes  his  sun  to  rise  on  the   evil  and  the  good.   46 If  you  love  those  who  love  you.  what  reward  will  you  get?   Are  not  even  the  tax  collectors  doing  that?  47 And  if  you  greet   only  your  own  people.Matthew  5:43-­‐7 "You  have  heard  that  it  was  said.   'Love  your  neighbor  and  hate  your   enemy. .  what  are  you  doing  more  than  others?   It  seems  that  Jesus  speaks  against  the  imprecatory   psalmist  in  his  words  and  in  his  death  on  the  cross.'  44 But  I  tell  you.

 then   why  was  his  voice  included  at  all? .So  where  do  we  go  from  here?   If  the  cursing  psalmist  was  wrong  in   expressing  his  judgment  on  his  enemies.

So  where  do  we  go  from  here?   If  the  cursing  psalmist  was  wrong  in   expressing  his  judgment  on  his  enemies.  then   why  was  his  voice  included  at  all? Good  question.  One  possible  reason  for  God   to  convey  a  meaning  that  is  the  opposite  of  its   .

What  does  irony  look  like? A  classic  example  of  irony  is   proposed  that  the  Irish  could   slaughter  and  sell  their  children   to  use  irony  to  condemn  the   way  that  the  English  were   abusing  the  Irish. .  treating  them   as  if  they  were  mere  animals.   He  made  the  point  effectively   with  irony.

 after   all.  it  was  but  the  great   .   He  knew  that  he  would  no   more  quail  before  his   guides  wherever  they   should  point.  He  had  been   to  touch  the  great  death.   and  found  that.The  Red   Badge  of  Courage  which  tells  the  story  of  how   Henry  Fleming  became  a  man  in  the  civil  war:   nonassertive  but  of   sturdy  and  strong  blood.

  .The  Red   Badge  of  Courage  which  tells  the  story  of  how   Henry  Fleming  became  a  man  in  the  civil  war:   nonassertive  but  of   sturdy  and  strong  blood.  it  was  but  the  great   However.   He  knew  that  he  would  no   more  quail  before  his   guides  wherever  they   should  point.  most critics  agree  that  Crane  intended  the   an  anti-­‐hero  and  remains  in  the  end  a  mental  child.  He  had  been   to  touch  the  great  death.   and  found  that.  after   all.

 God   might  have  included  the   voice  to  make  a  greater   ironic  point.So  the  idea  is  that  just  as   Crane  includes  the   greater  ironic  point. .

understood  as  authoritative  when  the   meaning  of  the  text  is  located  not  in  what  it   says  but  in  the  shadowy.  2009).  sharp-­‐edged  realm  of   Irony  and   Meaning in  the   Hebrew  Bible (Indiana   University   Press. .  8.

understood  as  authoritative  when  the   meaning  of  the  text  is  located  not  in  what  it   says  but  in  the  shadowy.  8. cases  the  inspiration  and  authority  of  scripture   lies  in  something  contrary  to  what  the  human   author  asserts.  sharp-­‐edged  realm  of   Irony  and   Meaning in  the   Hebrew  Bible (Indiana   University   Press.  2009). .

.  2009).  8.But  what  is  irony  doing  in  the  Bible?   Sharp  suggests  that serves  as  a  many-­‐edged  tool  for  the   destabilization  of  the  overconfident   Irony  and   Meaning in  the   Hebrew  Bible (Indiana   University   Press.

What  would  that  destabilization  look   .

"As surely as the LORD lives." 4 . because he did such a thing and had no pity. but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead. he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.." 5 David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan..  so  Nathan  tells  David  a  story. "Now a traveler came to the rich man. the man who did this must die! 6 He must pay for that lamb four times over.2  Samuel  12 David  has  committed  adultery  and  murder  but  has  not   yet  admitted  his  sin.

7 .

  -­‐edged  tool   In  other  words.  David  is  caught  off  guard  by  the  irony  of  the   situation  in  which  he  finds  himself.  Nathan  set  David   up  by  placing  him  in  an  ironic  situation  where  he  was   condemning  another  for  the  very  crimes  he  had  committed. .  and  this  leads  to  his   repentance.This  is  a  great  illustration  of  the  power  of  irony.

 Through  the   lens  of  Jesus  we  can  look  at  the  psalmist  and   to  turn  the  text  back  on  ourselves.  though  shown  grace.   refuses  to  extend  it  to  others.So  it  could  be  that  God  incorporated  the   imprecatory  psalms  into  the  canon  in  order  to   illustrate  through  the  psalmist  the  ironic   situation  of  one  who.  for  the   .

  6 May  my  tongue  cling  to  the  roof  of  my   mouth   if  I  do  not  remember  you.By  the  rivers  of  Babylon  we  sat  and  wept   when  we  remembered  Zion.   2 There  on  the  poplars   we  hung  our  harps.  LORD.   they  said.   7 Remember.   3 for  there  our  captors  asked  us  for   songs.   happy  are  those  who  repay  you   according  to  what  you  have  done   to  us."  they  cried.  doomed  to   destruction.   .   "tear  it  down  to  its  foundations!"   8 Daughter  Babylon.   "Tear  it  down.   our  tormentors  demanded  songs   of  joy.  what  the  Edomites did   on  the  day  Jerusalem  fell.  Jerusalem.   may  my  right  hand  forget  its   skill.  "Sing  us  one  of  the   songs  of  Zion!"   4 How  can  we  sing  the  songs  of  the   LORD   while  in  a  foreign  land?   5 If  I  forget  you.   9 Happy  are  those  who  seize  your  infants   and  dash  them  against  the  rocks.   if  I  do  not  consider  Jerusalem   my  highest  joy.

  6 May  my  tongue  cling  to  the  roof  of  my   mouth   if  I  do  not  remember  you.  doomed  to   destruction.   they  said.   "tear  it  down  to  its  foundations!"   8 Daughter  Babylon.   2 There  on  the  poplars   we  hung  our  harps.  LORD."  they  cried.   "Tear  it  down.   9 Happy  are  those  who  seize  your  infants   and  dash  them  against  the  rocks.  Jerusalem.   may  my  right  hand  forget  its   skill.   .   our  tormentors  demanded  songs   of  joy.   7 Remember.   if  I  do  not  consider  Jerusalem   my  highest  joy.  "Sing  us  one  of  the   songs  of  Zion!"   4 How  can  we  sing  the  songs  of  the   LORD   while  in  a  foreign  land?   5 If  I  forget  you.  what  the  Edomites did   on  the  day  Jerusalem  fell.   3 for  there  our  captors  asked  us  for   songs.   happy  are  those  who  repay  you   according  to  what  you  have  done   to  us.By  the  rivers  of  Babylon  we  sat  and  wept   when  we  remembered  Zion.

  7 Remember."  they  cried.   our  tormentors  demanded  songs   of  joy.   may  my  right  hand  forget  its   skill.  doomed  to   destruction.   if  I  do  not  consider  Jerusalem   my  highest  joy.   "tear  it  down  to  its  foundations!"   8 Daughter  Babylon.  "Sing  us  one  of  the   songs  of  Zion!"   4 How  can  we  sing  the  songs  of  the   LORD   while  in  a  foreign  land?   5 If  I  forget  you.   .   6 May  my  tongue  cling  to  the  roof  of  my   mouth   if  I  do  not  remember  you.  what  the  Edomites did   on  the  day  Jerusalem  fell.   3 for  there  our  captors  asked  us  for   songs.   they  said.By  the  rivers  of  Babylon  we  sat  and  wept   when  we  remembered  Zion.   "Tear  it  down.   happy  are  those  who  repay  you   according  to  what  you  have  done   to  us.  LORD.  Jerusalem.   9 Happy  are  those  who  seize  your  infants   and  dash  them  against  the  rocks.   2 There  on  the  poplars   we  hung  our  harps.

  ."  they  cried.   our  tormentors  demanded  songs   of  joy.  what  the  Edomites did   on  the  day  Jerusalem  fell.   happy  are  those  who  repay  you   according  to  what  you  have  done   to  us.   6 May  my  tongue  cling  to  the  roof  of  my   mouth   if  I  do  not  remember  you.   7 Remember.   "tear  it  down  to  its  foundations!"   8 Daughter  Babylon.  "Sing  us  one  of  the   songs  of  Zion!"   4 How  can  we  sing  the  songs  of  the   LORD   while  in  a  foreign  land?   5 If  I  forget  you.   3 for  there  our  captors  asked  us  for   songs.   they  said.By  the  rivers  of  Babylon  we  sat  and  wept   when  we  remembered  Zion.  LORD.  doomed  to   destruction.   may  my  right  hand  forget  its   skill.   2 There  on  the  poplars   we  hung  our  harps.   if  I  do  not  consider  Jerusalem   my  highest  joy.  Jerusalem.   9 Happy  are  those  who  seize  your  infants   and  dash  them  against  the  rocks.   "Tear  it  down.

  9 Happy  are  those  who  seize  your  infants   and  dash  them  against  the  rocks.   "tear  it  down  to  its  foundations!"   8 Daughter  Babylon.   if  I  do  not  consider  Jerusalem   my  highest  joy.By  the  rivers  of  Babylon  we  sat  and  wept   when  we  remembered  Zion.   may  my  right  hand  forget  its   skill.  "Sing  us  one  of  the   songs  of  Zion!"   4 How  can  we  sing  the  songs  of  the   LORD   while  in  a  foreign  land?   5 If  I  forget  you.   happy  are  those  who  repay  you   according  to  what  you  have  done   to  us."  they  cried.   2 There  on  the  poplars   we  hung  our  harps.   they  said.  Jerusalem.  doomed  to   destruction.   .  LORD.   6 May  my  tongue  cling  to  the  roof  of  my   mouth   if  I  do  not  remember  you.   our  tormentors  demanded  songs   of  joy.   7 Remember.   3 for  there  our  captors  asked  us  for   songs.   "Tear  it  down.  what  the  Edomites did   on  the  day  Jerusalem  fell.

'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.Remember again the words of Jesus "You have heard that it was said. love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.' But I tell you. that you may be children of your Father in .