12th February 2020

Payback Prayers

“Add to them punishment upon punishment; may they have no acquittal from you. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous.”
Psalm 69:27-28 (ESVUK)

Reading from the Psalms can help us when we struggle with our own prayers. In them we find our love, fear, delight, anger, despair, gratitude or confusion are truthfully and honestly laid before God. But we will come across some angry ones, wishing a whole heap of nasty things to come down on enemies’ heads. These may challenge us.

For example in Psalm 69 we come across a very distressed David. Having told God all that he has suffered at the hands of his enemies, he prays that life delivers every disaster possible on them, and that they are blotted out of the book of life. How can this even be in the Bible? David wants everything that has fallen on him to fall on his enemies and more – he wants them dead – for ever.

Now it’s true that we use exaggeration to make our points. We’re really hungry: ‘I could eat a horse!’ Oh no, we couldn’t. So these thoughts may be seen as overstatements. But even so, there are some powerful desires being expressed here.

But what happens if we find a whiff of a desire for retaliation in our hearts for someone who has hurt us? Well, we could act on those feelings – not a good idea. We can stamp on the feelings and bury them and pretend we don’t have them, which is not a bright idea either, because they will still be there in the back of our minds, and need to be dealt with one day.

David took a third option. In this psalm we see a real sizzler of emotions, put in some very strong language, being handed over to God. Even if there is some exaggeration, it’s shockingly strong. David expressed how he felt to God and asked him to take care of them.

Like David, we are to cast our burdens on the Lord and he assures us that ‘vengeance is mine, I will repay.’ We see God taking our anger and dealing with it, as he said he would, but just not in the way we expect. The payback fell on Jesus. All our hurtful deeds and our desires for accounting were placed on Jesus as he died on the cross. Above all people, Jesus had the right to cry out to God for vengeance, that God would turn the tables and pour out his wrath on the world. But while David prayed that God would forgive him and smite his enemies, Jesus prayed that God would smite him and forgive his enemies.

Saviour, you took all our resentments on yourself. You took on the justice we have craved sometimes. We, the hurters and hurted, find our rescue in you and forgiveness for all that we are and have done.

Study by Hilary Buck

About the Author:
Hilary Buck pastors Grace Communion in Lewes.
Like us on www.facebook.com/GCLewes

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion in Lewes
The House of Friendship
208 High Street

Meeting Time:
Sunday 11:00am

Local Congregational Contact:
Hilary Buck
Email: lewes@gracecom.church

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