A Deep Sorrow in My Soul

Below is a post that I made in the Bible Doctrine Study Group forum at Delphi Forums. The forum is for people who have been associated in some way with the ministry of the late R.B. Thieme, Jr. My post was titled “A Deep Sorrow in My Soul” but anyone who isn’t a member of that forum won’t be able to view it. With that in mind I thought I would also post it here and see if any of my regular readers (or irregular ones) have anything to contribute.

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Over the past couple of years I have been thinking about prayer and its proper use in the life of the Christian. Once again something has happened that has forced me to think long and hard about prayer.

Before I get into this topic I want to say that I have a solid understanding of Colonel Thieme’s teaching on prayer and that what I am about to write challenges that teaching. On this one I am going to be a Berean and ask anyone on this forum to show me where my thought has failed.

If any of you have been following current events you will have heard about the abduction of Jessica Ridgeway last week in a Denver suburb. I grew up in the Denver area and still have family there. As I write this everyone in Denver is waiting to hear from the FBI if the dismembered body they found two days ago is that of the 10 year old Jessica.

All of us were taught by Colonel Thieme that we are no longer allowed to make imprecatory prayers. After a lot of thought I do not believe the Colonel had it right. I have come to the conclusion that I do have the right to call for the destruction of Jessica’s murderer. I invite one and all of you to show me, through scripture, where I am wrong.

Colonel Thieme’s justification for believing that imprecatory is now banned is to the best of my knowledge based solely on this passage in Matthew:

44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
45 so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
46 For if you love those who love you, what reward will you have? Don’t even the tax collectors do the same?
47 And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing out of the ordinary? Don’t even the Gentiles do the same?
48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Matthew 5:44-48

The first thing I want to point out about this passage is that it is part of the Sermon on the Mount. The nation of Israel had not yet rejected Jesus as the Messiah, there was no foreshadowing of the Church, and everyone present was still under the Mosaic Law. This is the same Law that the nation of Israel had been under for 1,400 years. When David wrote his imprecatory Psalms he was under the Mosaic Law. When Jeremiah wrote the passage I am going to quote below he was also under the Mosaic Law. The imprecatory prayers in the Old Testament were not forbidden by the Mosaic Law and Jesus was not modifying the Law in the Sermon on the Mount. If Jesus was modifying the Mosaic Law then it really would not have meant much for Him to fulfill what He could change at any time.

Please note that both David and Jeremiah had indeed prayed for their persecutors as Jesus commands above. How are the passages below in violation of Jesus’ command? If these are in violation of God’s Law then why can’t I find God rebuking both Jeremiah and David for their arrogance? Why did God permit so many Psalms calling for the destruction of personal and national enemies to be included in the Psalms?

Let those who seek to kill me
be disgraced and humiliated;
let those who plan to harm me
be turned back and ashamed.
Let them be like chaff in the wind,
with the angel of the Lord driving them away.
Let their way be dark and slippery,
with the angel of the Lord pursuing them.
They hid their net for me without cause;
they dug a pit for me without cause.
Let ruin come on him unexpectedly,
and let the net that he hid ensnare him;
let him fall into it—to his ruin.

Psalm 35:4-8

Just a little farther down David writes this:

11 Malicious witnesses come forward;
they question me about things I do not know.
12 They repay me evil for good,
making me desolate.
13 Yet when they were sick,
my clothing was sackcloth;
I humbled myself with fasting,
and my prayer was genuine.

Psalm 35:11-13

David did pray for his persecutors. Either what David wrote is in accord with what Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount or I don’t know why this Psalm, and many others, should have been included in Holy Scripture.

Then there is the prophet Jeremiah who penned this passage when he discovered the plot against his life:

18 Then certain ones said, “Come, let’s make plans against Jeremiah, for instruction will never be lost from the priest, or counsel from the wise, or an oracle from the prophet. Come, let’s denounce him and pay no attention to all his words.”

19 Pay attention to me, Lord.
Hear what my opponents are saying!
20 Should good be repaid with evil?
Yet they have dug a pit for me.
Remember how I stood before You
to speak good on their behalf,
to turn Your anger from them
.
21 Therefore, hand their children over to famine,
and pour the sword’s power on them.
Let their wives become childless and widowed,
their husbands slain by deadly disease,
their young men struck down by the sword in battle.
22 Let a cry be heard from their houses
when You suddenly bring raiders against them,
for they have dug a pit to capture me
and have hidden snares for my feet.
23 But You, Lord, know
all their deadly plots against me.
Do not wipe out their guilt;
do not blot out their sin before You.
Let them be forced to stumble before You;
deal with them in the time of Your anger.

Jeremiah 18:18-23

Once again, just like David, Jeremiah had indeed prayed for his persecutors but that didn’t preclude him from praying that prayer at a later date. Where are the passages where God chews out David and Jeremiah for their petulance? How could God have permitted such things to be written in scripture without challenge if they are so wrong?

I will read all answers to my post but I am not of a mind to debate anyone on this. That doesn’t mean I won’t be reading your responses but I will not get into arguments over this.

May Jessica’s abductor/murderer truly receive what he so richly deserves.

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5 Comments on “A Deep Sorrow in My Soul”


  1. Glenn,

    First I do believe that when we speak of what the abductor/murderer deserves, hopefully this is spoken from a point of relative righteousness as it regards humans and the responsibility toward one another and not one of personal righteousness and I am sure that is the case.

    As to the reason for the prayers, Israel was the Theocracy. God was still their national adjudicator though they had been permitted the faithless establishment a human government with Kings, etc. God’s kingdom was literal/physical/geographical and from that God responded to such prayers as those who acted in accordance with his will and sought to establish and further God’s Kingdom petitioned God to take the lives of those who subverted God’s Kingdom.

    God’s Kingdom, as you know, is spiritual today, not geographical and there is no literal nation which he must or has promised to defend. Even the imprecations of David were not, by nature, purely vengeful, that is an eye for an eye, rather defensive and protective on behalf of threats to the Israel by either attacking the person of the human monarchy or some element of it. So even those imprecatory prayers, from what I have always understood, were specifically limited to Kingdom interests.

    • Glenn Says:

      Hi Alex,

      When I said “may Jessica’s abductor/murderer get what he so richly deserves” I was referring to capital punishment (see Genesis 9). I know that we are all sinners and without Christ’s work on our behalf we would be destined for the Lake of Fire. None the less I desire that the person who committed this atrocity receive the just penalty commanded by God and be put to death. Nothing more and nothing less.

      I am not so sure that God’s kingdom is spiritual today. At least not purely so. Jesus Christ is still the King of kings and Lord of lords and everyone is ultimately responsible to Him for our actions. If God’s Kingdom is purely spiritual then are the Divine Institutions and Laws of Divine Establishment still in-force?

      When I read prayers in the Old Testament I see that the authors appealed to many of God’s divine attributes. It is common to see a prophet appeal to the one true all-knowing and just God to right wrongs. Yes, these were usually prophets and kings who were praying but that’s who was writing the scripture. Young people in ancient Israel grew singing those imprecatory Psalms, that is how they learned to pray. Why did God record those Psalms if they weren’t to be used?

      Maybe all scripture (including the Old Testament) isn’t good for reproof and correction now that we are in the Church age. I have spent a lot of time studying the scripture under some great teachers and I still don’t know the answer to that.

      Colonel Thieme always said that we were to cast our cares upon the Lord. However what he taught restricted what we could pray about to the point that I am still not sure what he thought we could pray about. We cannot make imprecatory prayer. We cannot pray for God to provide material things for us because God provided everything for us in eternity past and to ask is almost a blaspheme. I believe he said we were not to pray about health issues. Because of Colonel Thieme’s view of the Divine Decrees I don’t think there was much that he thought we should actually pray for.

      The man who committed this crime if caught will not receive the death penalty from our justice system. I don’t know why I cannot go directly to the supreme court of heaven and ask that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven? I do know God’s will in this situation because He has told us (see Genesis 9 again).

      Feel free to disagree.

      Glenn

  2. Bobbi Swanson Says:

    I work at Jessica’s elementary school and I knew her personally. I can tell you she was a sweet, innocent girl that didn’t deserve what this monster did to her. I am asking God for justice. If given the chance, this absolute horror of a human being will do it again. He should be caught, and when convicted, I see no reason to give him the death penalty.

    • Glenn Says:

      Hi Bobbi,

      Did you mean to say “I see no reason to give him the death penalty” or “I see no reason to not to give him the death penalty.” From our earlier conversation I believe it is the second choice.

      Glenn

  3. jeff Says:

    “Be not deceived, God is not mocked, you will reap what you sow.” It seems right for a believer to desire the wicked to reap what they sow. At the same time, we would rejoice if the wicked repented and came to faith. Imprecatory psalms, as you point out, contain both a desire for judgment and a desire for the wicked to repent. We desire the salvation of all and, I believe, the righteous also desire God to judge those who reject Him.


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