Smash All The Babies (6/19/13)

Read: 1Kings 20:1-21:29, Acts 12:24-13:15, Psalm 137:1-9, Proverbs 17:16

Happy is the one who takes your babies and smashes them against the rocks!
(Psalm 137:9)

psalm-1379-smash-all-the-babies

Relate: When I am starting to write the next days devotions I will first spend some time in prayer and then read through the Bible’s daily reading. Sometimes immediately a verse jumps out to me and as soon as I’m done I’ll go right back to it. Other times there will be a theme running through both the Old Testament and New Testament readings and I will work off that theme. As I was reading today I was thinking, “I’ve got nothing.” I read through the OT and NT with no idea where I was going to go today. I read through the Psalm and then on the last verse… boom. “Oh no, God. Please no.” I thought. But I am a firm believer that Paul was writing truth when he wrote, “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness.”

There are two main approaches scholars have used to try to “fix” this verse. The first approach is to make it a metaphor. Origin, one of the earliest great Bible scholars, said it meant we are to dash our sins against the rocks of reason. Umm… no. The other approach is to say that this isn’t theology but the grieving cry of one Psalmist who has experienced the horror of a losing war, was forced into exile, and is not hearing the derision and mockery of his neighbors all around. The Psalms are meant to be a song of prayer and as far as prayers go, this one is… not so nice. But when read in Hebrew there is a beautiful sorrow that works its way through these nine verses. There is an intonation, a mournful sound, that goes deeper than words.

React: I wish that every thought that popped into my head was good and clean and wholesome. They’re not. I wish that every time I was faced with injustice or abuse I reacted with grace and forgiveness. I haven’t. I can remember sitting back with a smile on my face in high school as I dreamed about taking a baseball bat to a certain person’s face. Was that thought wrong? Yes. Was it justified? Yes. To react with equanimity in the face of sickening evil is just not natural. That is why I need Jesus to change my nature. He has, and He is, but I am not there yet.

But that doesn’t mean I need to clean myself up before coming to Him. I don’t need to get my emotions in check before getting on my knees. I don’t need to clean up my act before addressing the King. He changes my nature, not me. This Psalmist came to God as a mess. He came to prayer from an attitude desiring revenge and retribution. He came to God from a place of deep, deep sorrow. One thing I can guarantee you about this Psalmist… because he came to God, he didn’t stay in that place.

Respond: 

God, I don’t claim to have it all together. But it is easy for me to sit in judgment of others just like me. It is easy to sit back and say, “That Psalmist is wrong. He’s just sick.” He is. But so am I. So are all of us in our own way. Only You have the cure. Help me to learn how to forgive. Help me to learn how to heal. And until I do, help me to keep coming to You bring all of me… even my sick mess.

26 thoughts on “Smash All The Babies (6/19/13)

  1. Such an amazing revelation! Just love the second paragraph of “React”. God changes our nature, when we truly come to Him as we are. How true! Love the song too.

  2. You just gave me a great inspiration, I could read through my bible and get some ideas to write about. Didn´t even think about it until now, not kidding, there has to be a great source of wise, rich and productive ideas I can take out and use it in my writing.

  3. Thank you SO much for not shying away from these kind of upsetting verses! And for not “metaphorizing” or changing His word. I like the way you were able to make sense of it for our lives today.

  4. Why has this been such a difficult lesson to learn?!? Being raised in a church, we are almost conditioned to put on our “church face” for people at church and for God as well. It has been such a freeing experience in my recent history to realize that He loves me the way I am, and that it is His battle, not mine. All He asks of me is to trust in Him and have faith that He will change my heart so that I can be a light to this world. I am SO thankful that He understands my emotions even when they are wrong. He listens to my outcries of “It’s just not fair!” and my feelings of despair and helplessness, and He forgives me when they are wrong, and comforts me in the darkness. True change is worked in our hearts when we let ourselves be honest with our Father and we receive His grace.

    The key is to go to Him and HIm alone with these outcries. It’s when we turn these feeling outwards towards other people and start trying to find support, justification, and comfort in the people around us that sin has a chance to creep in.

    Thank you for sharing!

  5. “He came to God from a place of deep, deep sorrow. One thing I can guarantee you about this Psalmist… because he came to God, he didn’t stay in that place.” That really resonated with me, a mom of a son with serious mental illness. Thanks for this thoughtful posting and all your posts! I’m glad I found your site. Thanks.

  6. Thank you for your depth and honesty in your post. It is what more of us need to seriously take a look at in our lives and just cry out to Jesus in bare honesty of the vile creatures that we are and claim His promises and salvation. He is there and waiting with open arms to take each one of us in just as we are; not as we pretend or claim to be.

  7. Hi BJ, thanks for your perspective on this, however, I see it as proof that the Bible was written by Men and sometimes inspired by an angry spiteful god.

    The ONE true God would never demand things like these, ever. But a lower-level materialistic entity disguised, would.

    The Gnostic Christians believe in 2 Gods, one of the spiritual realm, the other of the material world. They also believe that we have been duped into following the wrong one. Verses like these in the Bible, The Torah and The Koran…are evidence to that fact.

    • “The ONE true God would never demand things like these, ever.”

      Absolutely correct. And He doesn’t. He also doesn’t give us what we deserve when we think, even express, such thoughts. Read the Psalm through in its entirety. There is no command imperative from God here. None. There is a command from the Babylonians to sing. There is a command from the Edomites to destroy. If anything, the Psalmist is responding to these commands with satirical irony. If this is the evidence you are relying on for your opinions, perhaps it is time for some new opinions.
      Blessings.

    • No my dear brother the Bible was Written by God using everyday sinners like us. Taking their experiences and showing the True Mercy and Love of God to restore all that man/ satan tries to destroy. God is Good period!

  8. Wow, you know I have read through psalms several times in my Christian walk (37 years) and I do not think I have ever consciencely read that verse. Good post, but, confess I am hung up on that verse, will have to do some more studying on it. Thanks! Appreciate when the Lord uses people to show me something I have missed. DAF

  9. There is perhaps no more severe animosity expressed in all of scripture–perhaps in all the writings of the world–than the conclusion of Psalm 137. It is important, I think, to remember when you read this that it is not the only scripture concerning the enemies of God and the relationship between the people of God and their enemies. Consider as a parallel passage Jeremiah’s instruction to the people of Israel in exile in Babylon: “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to Yahweh on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.’ ” (Jeremiah 29:7)

  10. When my teenage daughter gets very angry she says, “You make me want to hurt a baby!” It’s her way of expressing just how angry she is because it’s such a horrible thought to have much less do. I think that’s what the psalmist was feeling, although probably much more deeply than my daughter, that deep anger and frustration. Thank you for sharing that bit of history. There truly is nothing, no feeling, that we can experience today that hasn’t already been felt by someone else. God will heal us if we but ask.

  11. Blessings, my brother
    What you wrote and explained really touched me
    I was taught that this Psalm was written about the destruction of Zion and the Holy Temple by the Babylonians. Most nations (and I guess historians too) believed that Babylon attacked the Israelites as part of an imperialistic conquest, but if that is so, why did they torture the people so much?! So, the teaching I had was that when the next empire took over, the Psalmist was wishing the Babylonians to feel the same torture and pain that the Israelites felt.

    Anyway, thank you and may God continue to bless you

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