THE BIBLE STILL SURPRISES ME, after all these years of studying it and writing books about it.
Just today, I wanted to find a few Psalms of thanks. I thought it would be a good idea to post a blog thanking God for all he has done for us.
So I started looking at Psalms that had the word “thanks” in them. In several of the songs, I got a shock that kicked me back in my chair.
Consider this Psalm of thanks, which starts off beautifully:
How you made me is amazing and wonderful. I praise you for that. What you have done is wonderful. I know that very well.
None of my bones was hidden from you when you made me inside my mother’s body. That place was as dark as the deepest parts of the earth. When you were putting me together there, your eyes saw my body even before it was formed. You planned how many days I would live….
God, your thoughts about me are priceless….If I were to fall asleep counting and then wake up, you would still be there with me.
God, I wish you would kill the people who are evil!
Psalm 139:14-19, NIRV
Okay, where’d that last line come from? Did the tax collector suddenly show up while the poet was writing the song?
This flip flopping Psalm isn’t unique.
I will give you full credit when everyone gathers for worship; When the people turn out in force I will say my Hallelujahs.
Don’t let these liars, my enemies, have a party at my expense.
Psalm 35:18-19, The Message
Some Psalms are like that. Emotional teeter totters.
Come to think of it, so are my prayers.
And that’s what a lot of the Psalms are: prayers.
They have the cadence of poetry, the sound of music, and sometimes the rambling of a soul chatting away.
I was thinking about what a prayer of mine might sound like if I tried to match that style:
In front of the whole world, or at least the several dozen people who may read this blog, I say praise the Lord.
And when it comes to the current Congress of do-nothing politicians, I say don’t let them raise a plug nickle for their re-election. And praise the Lord.
Somehow, the Psalm prayers sound holier than mine.
Yet I do think my prayer tracks nicely with the sentiment.
I know! I read Psalms and sometimes I think: “Seriously?” So…when I am praying the Psalms to God, I choose to omit any verses that ask for him to smite, burn, kill, destroy, hate, punish, or otherwise inflict physical, mental or emotional pain on someone. It just does not jive with what I know of God. I know..I know…the Bible is not a buffet line where we can pick and choose what we want. But I just cannot read those kinds of passages in my prayer or worship.