Though I’m an atheist, I correspond with a lot of people who’ve not gone over to the Dark Side of the Force, so to speak. One of them, a religious right-winger, emailed me this little gem that’s making the rounds within certain conservative circles. I present it to you as received and followed by my response:
Scriptures can bring a sense of peace.
Thought you might like this verse…
Traffic was moving slowly, and a car in front of us had an Obama bumper sticker on it. It read, PRAY FOR OBAMA: PSALM 109:8. My friend’s bible was lying on the dashboard. He got it, opened it to the scripture, and read. He started laughing. Then he read it to me. I couldn’t believe what it said. We both laughed.
PSALM 109:8: “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.”
Perhaps Obama should respond with PSALM 109:1-3:
“Hold not thy peace; O God of my praise;
for the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.
They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without cause.”
For those who didn’t know the bible contains such things, Psalm 109 is an example of an “imprecatory prayer,” a petition to God to curse and destroy one’s enemies. To give you just a little idea of what the petitioner is asking God to do, here’s a few of the verses that follow the one on the bumper sticker:
“Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.
Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.
Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labor.
Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favor his fatherless children.”
It goes on in the same vein for 31 verses. Psalm 109 is one of the best-known imprecatory prayers in the bible, but it is far from the only one. If you’re a Christian who believes in a loving God and find the idea of imprecatory prayer in the bible to be a bit repulsive, you’re not alone. Christian apologist C S Lewis wrote:
In some of the Psalms the spirit of hatred which strikes us in the face is like the heat from a furnace mouth. In others the same spirit ceases to be frightful only by becoming (to a modern mind) almost comic in its naivety. Examples can be found all over the Psalter, but perhaps the worst is in 109.
(from Reflections on the Psalms)
Of course imprecatory prayer is in the bible and the bible, to many, is the inerrant word of God. So you will find plenty of apologists defending it; sometimes twisting themselves into logical knots in order to do so. Even C S Lewis takes a shot at it by implying that imprecatory prayer is only there to point out the evil within us and how it’s just a call to make us better.
Then there are the others; the literalists; the ones who see the presence of such a thing in the bible as a license to use it: The Pastor Wiley Drake’s of this world, the Chaplain Gordon Klingenschmitt’s and, in their own small and petty way, those who joke about a “PRAY FOR OBAMA: PSALM 109:8” bumper sticker.
Check out the video on this page to hear Pastor Wiley Drake of the First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, California, talk about imprecatory prayer and how he’s prayed to God for President Obama’s death.
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