The Imprecatory Psalms, Viewed In The Light Of The Southern Rebellion -- By: Edwards A. Park
BSac 19:73 (Jan 1862) p. 165
The Imprecatory Psalms, Viewed In The Light Of The Southern Rebellion
Those scriptures have been called imprecatory which contain a request, or intimate a wish or even willingness that moral agents be chastised or punished; and also those which express gratitude for the past afflictive event, or even submission to it.1 Many an amiable Christian reads some of these scriptures with a half-closed eye. The Imprecatory Psalms, in a special manner, are thought to be ill suited for modern times. They may have had their use as a war-trumpet in the shock of an ancient battle, when the soldiers of Israel were not ripe for gentler words; but it is imagined that we are to look upon them now as we gaze at the helmets and coats of mail which are hung up in the museum of antiquities. There are crises in life, however, which bring out the hidden uses of such parts of the Bible as had seemed to be antiquated. Since the commencement of the present rebellion, the Imprecatory Psalms have gained a new meaning in the view of men who had been wont to regard them as unchristian. Now the red planet Mars, which had been unnoticed in our horizon, has reappeared. The lost hymns have been found again. It is a new proof of the inspiration of the Bible, that so many of its forgotten teachings have been commended to our regard by the martial scenes of the day. The present occasion, therefore? appears to be a suitable one for considering the Imprecatory Psalms. And the design of the present Essay is to examine, first, some of the reasons why these Psalms are often
BSac 19:73 (Jan 1862) p. 166
condemned as adverse to the spirit of Christianity; and, secondly, some of the ethical principles which these Psalms illustrate.
On the first topic I remark, in the first place, that we are often inclined to condemn the Imprecatory Psalms, because we overlook the benevolent temper which characterized the writers of the Old Testament, and which was eminently conspicuous in David, the author of the sternest songs. Far too frequently do we fail to recognize that kindly spirit which pervades the Hebrew scriptures, and in harmony with which we ought to interpret the imprecations. When we inquire into the design of some appalling threat, we must keep in view that symbol of a humane temper which is found in the Levitical prescription: “If a bird’s nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young: But thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, and take the young to thee; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days.”You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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