Why are the Psalms so violent ?

RublevRublev Shipmate
The Psalms are the spiritual songs of the temple and the church has inherited them. They are used all the time for worship and prayer.

But the beautiful words of Psalm 139 end with a plea that God would kill the wicked. And it can be very distracting in worship to call upon God to cast your enemies down into a pit (Ps 35: 8), break their teeth (Ps 3: 7), wash your feet in their blood (Ps 37: 10) and dash their children against stones (Ps 137: 9).

Why are the Psalms so violent?

And do these violent texts have a spiritual value?
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Comments

  • OhherOhher Shipmate
    I'm fairly confident that almost anybody sailing aboard this vessel knows more about the Psalms than I, but 5 examples out 150 Psalms doesn't seem to me to steep them in excessive degrees of violence.

    Even if the actual percentage of mayhem and bloodshed in individual Psalms significantly exceeds these examples, the fact that they're allegedly all composed by a warrior-king of ancient times whose territory was surrounded by enemies would be explanation enough, wouldn't it?
  • PigwidgeonPigwidgeon Shipmate
    I wondered about this recently when someone told me she read the Psalms for comfort during a difficult time.
  • I'll be honest - there are bits of the Psalms I would never use in worship for that very reason (not being Anglican, I don't have to!). We must remember though that they are not "the hymnbook of the Church" as often stated, but an Old Testament document which predates Jesus' New Covenant and its ideas of forgiveness and peace.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    They were violent times.
  • I thought of saying that ... and, of course, life even in "civilised" countries was violent until fairly recently. We rightly condemn strict Muslim lands which legally kill people by stoning or beheading them - yet similar things were done in Britain not that many centuries ago and thought to be perfectly acceptable forms of justice. Anyone for hanging, drawing and quartering?
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    The psalms are honest.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Kwesi wrote: »
    The psalms are honest.
    This. That is the explanation I have heard of the the last verses of Psalm 139. (And yes, I have heard a sermon on those verses.). They serve as reminders that we can honestly express our deepest pain, anger, sadness or whatever to God.

    Those verses express the cries of the oppressed who just want their oppressors to stand in their shoes for a while and learn how it feels.

  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    It's far from clear to me that honesty in matters of our stunted emotional lives is in any sense a virtue. There was a brief time in the last century when psychology reigned supreme and we thought that crapping our inner child onto others was somehow valuable, but I thought we'd gotten beyond that and back to civilization, present POTUS not withstanding.
    I just finished Merton's translation of selections from the Desert Fathers. It was wonderfully refreshing and the polar opposite of the strand of the Psalms we are discussing. Just because something is in scripture doesn't make it edifying. That basic recognition is very important to our getting to a mature hermeneutic.
  • MooMoo Kerygmania Host
    C.S. Lewis wrote a book called, Reflections on the Psalms. He pointed out that the violent parts reflect the anger of those who have been unjustly treated. They're not pleasant reading, but they remind us of why we should treat others justly.
  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    Moo wrote: »
    C.S. Lewis wrote a book called, Reflections on the Psalms. He pointed out that the violent parts reflect the anger of those who have been unjustly treated. They're not pleasant reading, but they remind us of why we should treat others justly.
    No, they reflect the anger of people who believe that they have been unjustly treated. That group is pretty much all of us. And the activities of the people who were hauled into captivity, both before and after their captivity, do not give one confidence that "feeling the burn" is particularly useful to engendering a sense of justice.
  • sionisaissionisais Shipmate
    The times in which they were written were indeed violent, but civilisation can be defined by literature and conflict, so a lot of literature is about conflict and a greater proportion of that literature is used in scripture of various religions. Possibly not to enhance the faith, but to reinforce a particular strand of civilisation. YMMV.
  • AnselminaAnselmina Shipmate
    tclune wrote: »
    Moo wrote: »
    C.S. Lewis wrote a book called, Reflections on the Psalms. He pointed out that the violent parts reflect the anger of those who have been unjustly treated. They're not pleasant reading, but they remind us of why we should treat others justly.
    No, they reflect the anger of people who believe that they have been unjustly treated. That group is pretty much all of us. And the activities of the people who were hauled into captivity, both before and after their captivity, do not give one confidence that "feeling the burn" is particularly useful to engendering a sense of justice.

    Can't the anger expressed in the psalms be of both kinds of people; those who wrongly think themselves unjustly treated and those who really are unjustly treated? There seems plenty of scope for either interpretation. Why do the rich and wicked prosper and the poor, honest guys get sweet Fanny Adams? And why shouldn't they complain about it?

    Not everyone who believes themselves to be unjustly treated are wrong, are they?

    Of course, context is important, too. I'm more likely to be on the side of a 'Psalmist' who is genuinely impoverished, oppressed and unjustly persecuted; whereas the same words coming out of the mouth of a well-off privileged egoist isn't likely to have the same effect.
  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    Anselmina wrote: »
    tclune wrote: »
    Moo wrote: »
    C.S. Lewis wrote a book called, Reflections on the Psalms. He pointed out that the violent parts reflect the anger of those who have been unjustly treated. They're not pleasant reading, but they remind us of why we should treat others justly.
    No, they reflect the anger of people who believe that they have been unjustly treated. That group is pretty much all of us. And the activities of the people who were hauled into captivity, both before and after their captivity, do not give one confidence that "feeling the burn" is particularly useful to engendering a sense of justice.

    Can't the anger expressed in the psalms be of both kinds of people; those who wrongly think themselves unjustly treated and those who really are unjustly treated? There seems plenty of scope for either interpretation. Why do the rich and wicked prosper and the poor, honest guys get sweet Fanny Adams? And why shouldn't they complain about it?

    Not everyone who believes themselves to be unjustly treated are wrong, are they?
    I did not say that everyone who believes himself to be unjustly treated is wrong. Indeed, when I said that just about all of us believe ourselves to be unjustly treated, it pretty much requires that I am including those who actually have been unjustly treated -- unless you believe that nobody actually is the victim of injustice.
    My point was not that there is no injustice in the world, but that the excesses of the Israelite elites towards others was not diminished in the slightest, either by their captivity or by their eloquent complaints about their own mistreatment. Suggesting that the anger in the Psalms serves some higher purpose in drawing people toward empathy and justice assumes facts not in evidence, as the lawyers say. Or so ISTM.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    tclune: No, they reflect the anger of people who believe that they have been unjustly treated.

    Not sure, tclune, why you question the integrity of the psalmists. Are you doubting the truth of the events described or the justification of the reactions?

    ISTM, unless proved otherwise, that psalm 137: 8-9, at least, is a true witness:

    " O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us.
    Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones."

    Of course, tclune, it may be that you have experienced such horrors and met them with great Christian stoicism. In which case I apologise. Meanwhile, perhaps we could seek an opinion amongst the women of the Congo who have seen their husbands murdered, and their children slain before their eyes as a prelude to their own rape.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Surely in a way that is a bit of a technicality. Of course anger results from perception of what is happening. Same as sadness, happiness, any emotion. And so equally, not everyone who is treated unjustly will realise they are being treated unjustly, and so they will not feel anger.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    fineline: Surely in a way that is a bit of a technicality. Of course anger results from perception of what is happening.
    OK so long as all 'perceptions' are not seen a purely subjective: some are and some are not.

  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Kwesi wrote: »
    The psalms are honest.
    This. That is the explanation I have heard of the the last verses of Psalm 139. (And yes, I have heard a sermon on those verses.).
    Oops. Typo. I meant the last verses of Psalm 137.
    tclune wrote: »
    My point was not that there is no injustice in the world, but that the excesses of the Israelite elites towards others was not diminished in the slightest, either by their captivity or by their eloquent complaints about their own mistreatment. Suggesting that the anger in the Psalms serves some higher purpose in drawing people toward empathy and justice assumes facts not in evidence, as the lawyers say. Or so ISTM.
    It seems to me that much the same thing could be said about much of the writings of prophets, which the elite (and others) also ignored—that you're saying that expressions of violent anger in the psalms cannot serve a higher purpose in drawing people toward empathy and justice because they didn't draw one particular group of people—the Isrealite elite—toward empathy and justice.

    Or perhaps the higher purpose is not so much to draw the elite toward empathy and justice, but rather to be a voice for the oppressed, who hear their own pain and anger expressed. Scripture tells us elsewhere that God hears the cries of the poor and the oppressed (even if the rest of us don't). These verses are part of those cries that God hears. Whether they do draw us toward empathy and justice, they should do so. If we are not drawn to empathy and justice, perhaps it is we who have failed, not the psalmist. At least, that's what it looks like to me.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    tclune wrote: »
    Moo wrote: »
    C.S. Lewis wrote a book called, Reflections on the Psalms. He pointed out that the violent parts reflect the anger of those who have been unjustly treated. They're not pleasant reading, but they remind us of why we should treat others justly.
    No, they reflect the anger of people who believe that they have been unjustly treated. That group is pretty much all of us. And the activities of the people who were hauled into captivity, both before and after their captivity, do not give one confidence that "feeling the burn" is particularly useful to engendering a sense of justice.

    Yes. If a Russian soldier from World War II wrote a poem about raping German women during the siege of Berlin, I guess I could accept that maybe he thinks himself justified because of what the Nazis had done to his own people.

    But I'm sure as hell not gonna say it's inspired by God, or even deserves to be linked with pieces of writing inspired by God. Basically, it's the most fucked-up response possible to an existing fucked-up situation.


  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    Despite my objection to tclune's apparent questioning of the authenticity of the psalmists' claims and reactions, I have more than a little sympathy with his questioning of the link with "justice". In psalm 137 there is little sense of justice, rather a visceral desire for vengeance: of doing to others, if not more, than they have done to you. Justice is what intrudes between crime and the punishment of offenders through the intervention of third parties.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    tclune wrote: »
    Suggesting that the anger in the Psalms serves some higher purpose in drawing people toward empathy and justice assumes facts not in evidence, as the lawyers say. Or so ISTM.

    People really do go the extra mile with "difficult passages" in the Bible, trying to make them sound like something more elevated than the jingoistic psychosis we would take them to be if they were written by, say, the propagandists of a long-forgotten hunter-gatherer tribe not thought to be among the forerunners of western culture.

  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    These verses are part of those cries that God hears. Whether they do draw us toward empathy and justice, they should do so. If we are not drawn to empathy and justice, perhaps it is we who have failed, not the psalmist. At least, that's what it looks like to me.
    I think that the post from which I cut the above has a lot of substance. But I want to give my thoughts on the above. The point I want to emphasize is that it was the exact same people who bemoaned the injustice they received who went on to divorce and abandon their foreign wives upon returning to Jerusalem -- a stunningly cruel thing in those days. The kind of supposed benefit that Moo was suggesting Lewis found in the Psalms is just not there. It is worth giving thought to what bends the arc of history toward justice, and it does not appear to be focusing on your own grievances. That was the only point I was raising. As always, YMMV.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Kwesi wrote: »
    fineline: Surely in a way that is a bit of a technicality. Of course anger results from perception of what is happening.
    OK so long as all 'perceptions' are not seen a purely subjective: some are and some are not.

    Perceptions are of course subjective. Some just have more people agreeing with them than others, which tends to be the standard by which 'real' is defined.

  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    fineline: Perceptions are of course subjective. Some just have more people agreeing with them than others, which tends to be the standard by which 'real' is defined.

    Don't agree! The earth was never flat even when just about everybody held it to be so.

    How about this to be going on with?

    Ronald Knox:

    “There was a young man who said "God
    Must find it exceedingly odd
    To think that the tree
    Should continue to be
    When there's no one about in the quad."

    Reply:
    "Dear Sir: Your astonishment's odd;
    I am always about in the quad.
    And that's why the tree
    Will continue to be
    Since observed by, Yours faithfully, God.”
  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    I wonder whether what is written in the psalms is so very different from the desire often expressed that 'karma will come to get you.'

    There is a basic human desire for justice, for those who do us wrong to be punished. If I had been forced to watch while my baby was dashed against a rock after I had been taken into captivity, I would probably want those responsible to feel the same agony.

    To live in conflict with other tribes was the way of life at the time. During wars, we want those who are attacking us to be stopped. We might even pray for them to be killed.

    It's not easy to forgive and to love our enemies.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    tclune wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    These verses are part of those cries that God hears. Whether they do draw us toward empathy and justice, they should do so. If we are not drawn to empathy and justice, perhaps it is we who have failed, not the psalmist. At least, that's what it looks like to me.
    I think that the post from which I cut the above has a lot of substance. But I want to give my thoughts on the above. The point I want to emphasize is that it was the exact same people who bemoaned the injustice they received who went on to divorce and abandon their foreign wives upon returning to Jerusalem -- a stunningly cruel thing in those days. The kind of supposed benefit that Moo was suggesting Lewis found in the Psalms is just not there. It is worth giving thought to what bends the arc of history toward justice, and it does not appear to be focusing on your own grievances. That was the only point I was raising. As always, YMMV.
    Thanks. That helps me understand where you're coming from, and I think this is a valid point, though I don't think it necessarily contradicts the point that Moo made. I think they're both part of a bigger picture.

    And can we say it was it the exact same people, given the length of the Babylonian captivity? (Or do you mean people in the sense of the Israelites rather than in the sense of individuals?)

  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Raptor Eye wrote: »
    I wonder whether what is written in the psalms is so very different from the desire often expressed that 'karma will come to get you.'

    Or, more precisely, "Karma will get come to get you by having someone murder your defenseless babies who had nothing to do with the crimes I'm so angry about."

    If it was just about causing the perpetrators to feel grief(say, by DASHING them against rocks), I don't think there would be nearly the same degree of controversy about that line.



  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    Raptor Eye wrote: »

    To live in conflict with other tribes was the way of life at the time. During wars, we want those who are attacking us to be stopped. We might even pray for them to be killed.

    It's not easy to forgive and to love our enemies.

    No, but if I'm going to take your writings as exemplifying the viewpoint of an omnibenevolent God, I expect to see a higher standard of morality than that exhibited by the local kill-'em-all brigade.
  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    And can we say it was it the exact same people, given the length of the Babylonian captivity? (Or do you mean people in the sense of the Israelites rather than in the sense of individuals?)
    I was thinking communally -- the people who raised up Psalm 137 were the people who abandoned their spouses. While God seems to exhort the Israelites to learn from their suffering ("Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I am commanding you to do all this"), it never seems to work out that way.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    Kwesi wrote: »
    fineline: Perceptions are of course subjective. Some just have more people agreeing with them than others, which tends to be the standard by which 'real' is defined.

    Don't agree! The earth was never flat even when just about everybody held it to be so.

    No, but it was seen as the reality at the time. And, at the risk of going off at a tangent, we can also ask: What is flatness? It is a concept we come up with from our human perceptions. And human perceptions are limited, because we judge them by our human perceptions.

    And getting back to the subject at hand, we are talking about human emotions. These are always subjective and based on perceptions. The same people can experience the same thing, and each will have a different perception of it - even if there are similarities, there are always differences, based on our chemical make-up, our individual experiences, our personality, etc. Our concept of fairness is human and limited.

    It is human to feel anger, to feel fear, to feel sadness, to feel happiness. For all sorts of reasons, which onlookers may feel are justified or not, but emotions are emotions regardless. And these emotions are all represented in the Psalms, and represented strongly and whole-heartedly - none of the reserved, understated, stiff upper lip expressions that are more the norm in middle class Britain, for instance.
  • stetsonstetson Shipmate
    edited April 4
    fineline wrote: »

    It is human to feel anger, to feel fear, to feel sadness, to feel happiness. For all sorts of reasons, which onlookers may feel are justified or not, but emotions are emotions regardless. And these emotions are all represented in the Psalms, and represented strongly and whole-heartedly - none of the reserved, understated, stiff upper lip expressions that are more the norm in middle class Britain, for instance.

    So, if some disgruntled Hebrew had written "Fuck you, Jehovah! I wanna kill all my fellow Hebrews who continue with their idiotic worship of you, and then I wanna sacrifice their babies to a Golden Calf!!", could that have been included in the Psalms?

    After all, if the Old Testament is all about representing the full range of human emotions...

  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    edited April 4
    Stetson, I'm not talking about criteria by which it is decided. Just the fact that the Psalms do include the range of emotion. It seems more usual for humans to feel hostile enmity towards those whom they perceive as their enemy, and this seems to have been more black and white in the days of different tribes. The psalmists do express sorrow that friends have turned against them, though not a desire to kill them, at least, not from what I remember. The anger is towards those perceived as the enemy.

    Thing is, the emotions in the Pslams are all over the place. In the same psalm, the psalmist can be declaring a desire to be dead, feeling his life isn't worth living, then a few lines later proclaiming God's greatness and rejoicing. One minute expressing the desire for God to kill everyone, the next marvelling at God's love. This is how emotion works - it is fickle. I don't see the psalms as a moral guidebook - more a poetic depiction of human emotion experienced and expressed through prayer, as the person wrestles with relating their experience and emotions to their relationship with and understanding of God.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited April 4
    tclune & stetson. Batman & Robin. POW!
  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    stetson wrote: »
    Raptor Eye wrote: »

    To live in conflict with other tribes was the way of life at the time. During wars, we want those who are attacking us to be stopped. We might even pray for them to be killed.

    It's not easy to forgive and to love our enemies.

    No, but if I'm going to take your writings as exemplifying the viewpoint of an omnibenevolent God, I expect to see a higher standard of morality than that exhibited by the local kill-'em-all brigade.

    What if you take the writings, or songs as the psalms are, as honest emotional human cries to God?
  • I'll be honest - there are bits of the Psalms I would never use in worship for that very reason (not being Anglican, I don't have to!). We must remember though that they are not "the hymnbook of the Church" as often stated, but an Old Testament document which predates Jesus' New Covenant and its ideas of forgiveness and peace.

    You may, or may not, be surprised at how many Anglicans don't, even though they 'have to.'

    I remember a late lamented RC priest who used to bob into one of the local Anglican churche after he retired because he liked to hear the choir chanting the Psalms. He missed that within his own church.

    If he were to come back and visit now he'd find it hard to find anywhere locally that continues that practice.

    Mind you. he's probably hearing them in Heaven.

    The 'hymn-book of the Church' as it were also includes the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis ... ;)
  • MooMoo Kerygmania Host
    I failed to present clearly what Lewis said. He did not say these verses were there for our edification. He was considering the problem of what we, as Christians should do with these passages. His answer was to think of what we may have done to instill this kind of justifiable anger in others. We should be very vigilant about our actions and not cause others to sin.
  • Rublev wrote: »
    The Psalms are the spiritual songs of the temple and the church has inherited them. They are used all the time for worship and prayer.

    I reject your premise. The psalms may have become that, but they likely weren't at the start. They were probably more like cute little rhymes and limericks. Ditties. Fun things to say. And invented during daily life. It's only modernity which thinks that religion isn't about life in general and closets the psalms in the temple. (I also wonder about the quality of their wine, and whether a little ergot ever contaminated their grain.)

    Isn't there a movie where a soldier character says "taste and see that the lord is good" and shoots someone in the face? or did I dream it up? Some of the psalms are like that.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    I wonder why Rublev keeps posting provocative messages on the ship of fools board. Seems like Rublev wants to create maximum disruption or argument.

    Isn't that the definition of a troll?

    Doesn't seem like Rublev wants to participate in any of the other ongoing discussions.

    I am open to any counter argument.

    In the meantime I won't feed a(n apparent) troll.

  • Might want to take that one to Hell.

    In the meantime, I'll respond to the rest of the posters, who are going like gangbusters. It's worth remembering that the Psalms are almost always addressed to God, and in the case of the nasty bits, even more often so. That in my experience is the only safe thing to do with nasty thoughts and emotions. I can safely say to God "I wish you would make my neighbor drop dead" because a) there is no danger of him actually doing it, b) it allows me to get my venting done to a safe ear who will certainly not pass it on to anyone else, and c) it will probably get me a rebuke (or other appropriate response) for my trouble. So it's basically a win/win/win situation.

    Try saying the same thing to a fellow human being and there'd be all sorts of trouble. And simply stifling one's unpleasant thoughts doesn't work very well.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    And the Jewish nation was a small one, with not a great deal of good agricultural land. It was on the best way between the countries on the Tigris/Euphrates rivers and the Nile, so was at constant risk from large and powerful empires as well as the much smaller neighbours with whom to share that small strip of land. So there was always the constant threat to security and a lot of that spills over into many of the OT books, especially the Psalms.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    @NOprophet_NØprofit

    It's not my premise that the psalms originated in temple worship. The standard text is The Psalms in Israel's Worship by Mowinckel. There is a Biblical reference to the organisation of Temple worship in 1 Chron 16: 4-7. According to the Mishnah the Levites sang a different psalm on each day of the week at the daily sacrifices in the Temple. The superscriptions of the psalms refer to the choirmaster and to musical instruments so we know the psalms were composed for choral singing and musical accompaniment. The Psalms of Ascent (120-134) were sung by pilgrims going up the hill of Jerusalem to worship at the Temple for the three pilgrim festivals (Deut 16: 16).
  • Several of my favourite hymn tunes are originally drinking songs. They are now piously sung by communion tipplers who seldom dance whether before God or behind.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Both the content and titles of the psalms show that they were used in Temple worship. There are numerous references to going to the Temple and offering sacrifice: 'I was glad when they said to me, let us go to the House of the Lord' (Ps 122: 1; cf 63: 2; 66: 13).

    Psalm 5 describes bowing down in worship (Psalm 5: 7). Psalm 26 describes ritual handwashing (Psalm 26: 6) Psalms 100 and 118 refer to entrance liturgies at the temple gates. Psalm 68 describes the start of a procession with singers and musicians followed by the people. And Psalm 118 refers to the celebration of the harvest festival at Tabernacles with green branches (Psalm 118: 27).
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    @NOprophet_NØprofit said -

    Isn't there a movie where a soldier character says "taste and see that the lord is good" and shoots someone in the face? or did I dream it up? Some of the psalms are like that.

    When I was a young teacher 40 years ago the deputy headteacher used to whack children on the side of the head to the hymn “God is Love, His the Care” if they weren’t singing loud enough.

    (Yes, I did confront her about it - she screamed in my face.)
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    @Rublev said -

    Both the content and titles of the psalms show that they were used in Temple worship. There are numerous references to going to the Temple and offering sacrifice: 'I was glad when they said to me, let us go to the House of the Lord' (Ps 122: 1; cf 63: 2; 66: 13).

    The titles were added 100s of years later.

    Of course people would talk about going to the temple in their rhymes, it was everyday life for them.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    When I was a child at primary school we had hymn practice in the hall every Wednesday morning with the deputy head walking up and down the central aisle brandishing a metre ruler menacingly at us. Perhaps there used to be a special course for deputy heads in the 1970s on how to teach hymn singing?
  • tclunetclune Shipmate
    Several of my favourite hymn tunes are originally drinking songs. They are now piously sung by communion tipplers who seldom dance whether before God or behind.

    Are you sure about that? Our old organist was quite a scholar and claimed that "bar songs" was an old fashioned way of saying "sheet music." This was misunderstood as "drinking songs" somewhere along the line, and a canard was born. I don't know whether this is accurate or not, but it has a whiff of plausibility to it and she was a careful researcher, so I would tend to believe her over unsourced stories. FWIW
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    So, @Rublev, now that we’re 40-some posts into this thread, what are your thoughts about violent portions of the psalms and whether they have spiritual value?
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    Art reflects the era that it is in. It covers all emotional states and ideals. Psalms express the emotions that all felt at some point. Violence was the norm at the time. If art fails to express society then it has failed.
  • AnselminaAnselmina Shipmate

    tclune wrote: »
    I did not say that everyone who believes himself to be unjustly treated is wrong. Indeed, when I said that just about all of us believe ourselves to be unjustly treated, it pretty much requires that I am including those who actually have been unjustly treated -- unless you believe that nobody actually is the victim of injustice.
    My point was not that there is no injustice in the world, but that the excesses of the Israelite elites towards others was not diminished in the slightest, either by their captivity or by their eloquent complaints about their own mistreatment. Suggesting that the anger in the Psalms serves some higher purpose in drawing people toward empathy and justice assumes facts not in evidence, as the lawyers say. Or so ISTM.

    I think you can see where I got the idea that you were contradicting Moo! She wrote that C S Lewis wrote about those violent psalms as reflecting 'the anger of those who have been unjustly treated'. To which your reply was 'no, it reflects the anger of those who believe they have been unjustly treated'.

    I absolutely take your (indiscernible) finesse about that qualification including those who really do have an entitlement to their feelings of injustice. But I would suggest that your point didn't actually come across that way. And my own response was on behalf of those who you say, yourself, do have an entitlement to their anger at injustice after all. So now I'm a little confused?!

    Anyway. I do agree with you about the community whinges of the nation of God's people being, by and large, the natural consequences of their own disobedience. God was always promising 'for ever' things to a people who followed his commandments. They usually didn't, so presumably the 'for ever' things never came their way.

    But undoubtedly some of the psalms' complaints and lamentations come from the oppressed, the persecuted - individuals and portions of society - who have, one might say, a right to expect a God of Justice and Vengeance to stand up for them. I think, too, if the anger in the psalms does indeed serve a higher purpose for those of us reading them, drawing us to a remembrance of empathy and justice, that must be a good thing? Isn't scripture, or the Holy Spirit, allowed to do that, even if it's primary purpose was for something else?
  • EliabEliab Shipmate, Purgatory Host
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    I wonder why Rublev keeps posting provocative messages on the ship of fools board. Seems like Rublev wants to create maximum disruption or argument.

    Isn't that the definition of a troll?

    Doesn't seem like Rublev wants to participate in any of the other ongoing discussions.

    I am open to any counter argument.

    In the meantime I won't feed a(n apparent) troll.

    Personal attacks (and calling someone a troll who want to create disruption is a personal attack) should be made in Hell.

    Questions about the ship's rules and hosting decisions should be raised in the Styx.

    Neither is appropriate for Purgatory.


    Eliab Purgatory host

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