The classic example is the line about smashing babies on rocks from Psalm 137:
Psalms 137.9Another example is Psalm 109, which rains down a long list of curses:
Blessed shall he be who takes your little ones
and dashes them against the rock!
Psalm 109.6-15Again, many liberal and progressive Christians are scandalized by these psalms. But here's my rejoinder:
Appoint a wicked man against him;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.
When he is tried, let him come forth guilty;
let his prayer be counted as sin!
May his days be few;
may another take his office!
May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow!
May his children wander about and beg,
seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!
May the creditor seize all that he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
Let there be none to extend kindness to him,
nor any to pity his fatherless children!
May his posterity be cut off;
may his name be blotted out in the second generation!
May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord,
and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out!
Let them be before the Lord continually,
that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth!
Quit tone policing victims.
Quit tone policing the Psalms.
I, for one, am glad that victims were allowed to speak in the bible, and therefore in the community of faith. And I'm glad victims spoke in their own way and with their own voice. The rage and hurt of victims is not kind, or polite or nice. The voices of victims make us uncomfortable and unsettled.
I am glad the voices of victims in Scripture was not edited or tone policed so that the privileged could have a politically correct, tame, civil, nice, polite, kind and comfortable bible.
I like the bible we got, the unsettling and disturbing bible that gives victims the microphone.
Recall the context of Psalm 137. The opening lines:
By the waters of Babylon,This is like SS officers asking a Jewish prisoner to sing a Jewish song in Auschwitz for their sick entertainment. "Hey, Jew boy, come over here and sing us a song! Do a little dance!"
there we sat down and wept,
when we remembered Zion.
On the willows there
we hung up our lyres.
For there our captors
required of us songs,
and our tormentors, mirth, saying,
“Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
And the Jewish prisoner sings and dances in the mud as the officers laugh and laugh.
This is like the African slaves in America being forced to sing and dance to entertain their masters and guests at parties.
Psalm 137 is sung after the Babylonian exile and captivity. Mothers, daughters and sisters had been raped. Friends and family members tortured and killed.
So, yeah, Psalm 137 rages.
But let's not tone police rape, murder and torture victims.
In a similar way, note the context of Psalm 109. Who are the curses being directed at?
Psalm 109.16The curses are being called down upon a person who is murdering the poor, needy and brokenhearted. This is the same sort of rage we've see on the streets of Ferguson and Staten Island. And in those cases the homicides were not premeditated. Psalm 109 speaks of a murderer who pursues and targets the poor and needy. Premeditation.
For he did not remember to show kindness,
but pursued the poor and needy
and the brokenhearted, to put them to death.
And just as we'd not tone police the family, friends and communities speaking out on behalf of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, we shouldn't tone police Psalm 109. No matter how uncomfortable that makes us or how messy it makes our bibles.
Again, I'm glad victims were allowed to write the bible.
Let's quit tone policing the Psalms.