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Psalm 140:10 Let hot burning coals fall upon them; let them be cast into the mire, never to rise up again.
The psalms can be full of anger, from the brutally violent to the elegantly cruel (let my enemies melt away like a snail in the heat, implores one). I’ve never been able to get used to reading these sorts of things aloud together in Morning Prayer. But do some of the same lines that disturb me in prayer come to mind when I’ve been really hurt? Oh yeah.
The people who gave birth to these texts were not uniquely angry—they were just human. That these threats come to us as prayer is a helpful lesson. Instead of dismissing them as thoughts we ought not to have, what if we acknowledged them? I can’t recall a single psalm that prays for personal revenge—only that God would work justice for the people. Acknowledging our anger—and that justice belongs to God alone—can be the first step in truly praying for our enemies.
MOVING FORWARD: In time, prayer works its changing power on us. Maybe one day we’ll end up like Baalam, who made an exasperated King Balak cry, “I summoned you to curse my enemies, but instead you have blessed them these three times. Now be off with you!”