Satan, the Psalms and Violence

In the Psalms there are three dramatis personae--the psalmist, God and the enemy.

You can't read the Psalms without reading about the enemy over and over. Enemies taunt, kill, jeer, rob, betray and oppress all through the Psalms.

So it's not surprising that a thread of vengeance is woven through the Psalms. And sometimes this thirst for vengeance can look for all the world like a call for jihad. 
Psalm 149.6-9
May the praise of God be in their mouths
and a double-edged sword in their hands,

to inflict vengeance on the nations
and punishment on the peoples,

to bind their kings with fetters,
their nobles with shackles of iron,

to carry out the sentence written against them—
this is the glory of all his faithful people.
May the praise of God be in their mouths and a double-edged sword be in their hands to inflict vengeance upon the nations. This is glory of God's faithful people.

This psalm governed the imagination of the zealots. And when we speak of the Jews during Jesus' day expecting a military Messiah we know where this expectation comes from, it comes from places like Psalm 149.

So how did Jesus read psalms like Psalm 149?

Again, as I argue in Reviving Old Scratch, Jesus used what we can call a Christus Victor hermeneutic to read the Psalms.

Yes, there is an Enemy to be defeated, an Enemy that is ruling the nations. That Enemy is Satan.

I think one of the problems liberal and progressive Christians have with psalms like Psalm 149 is that, because they tend not to believe in the devil, they struggle to locate "the enemy" in the psalms. Liberal and progressive Christians lack Jesus' imagination.

Without Satan as the enemy the only enemy left are human beings, the wicked oppressors, which tempts liberal and progressive Christians into the imagination of the zealots.

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