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