Brueggemann on Psalms of Vengeance

In a great (or perhaps dubious) act of pastoral counseling last week, I pointed a guy toward the Psalms, particularly the Psalms of Vengeance [1].

Why would I do such a thing?

I think, along with Walter Brueggemann, that "Much Christian piety and spirituality is romantic and unreal in its positiveness. As children of the Enlightenment, we have censored and selected around the voice of darkness and disorientation, seeking to go from strength to strength, from victory to victory. But such a way not only ignores the Psalms; it is a lie in terms of our experience" [2].

This guy is hurt; he's been wronged; he feels scandalized. Commitments that were made to him have been broken. Promises have been reneged. His life has been taken without his consent, despite his pleas to have it otherwise. I turned him to these Psalms because I don't know where else to send a man to process this torrent of emotions.

Again, "By the end of such a Psalm, the cry for vengeance is not resolved. The rage is not removed. But it has been dramatically transformed by the double step of owning and yielding" [3].

Here's a clip of Brueggemann explaining how these Psalms function ("at their best"):

This snippet is from a 3-part lecture series called The Psalms: The Hard Road from Obedience to Praise. The 3 lectures (with Q&A) can be purchased from Miko Productions for $35. The recordings are very high quality.

[1] Psalms of Vengeance include Psalms 109, 58, 69. They are alternatively called "Imprecatory Psalms."
[2] Walter Brueggemann, The Message of the Psalms, 11.
[3] Walter Brueggemann, Praying the Psalms, 68.

Related Posts:
Working (and Praying) Through the Psalms
Book Review: Night by Elie Wiesel


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