“Perhaps, it would do modern tenderheartedness no harm to have a little more iron infused into its gentleness, and to lay to heart that the King of Peace must first be King of Righteousness.” Alexander McClaren
Katie and I were once embroiled in a long protracted legal battle against some crooked lawyers. Friends would ask how to pray for us, and I joked that they should pray “for the Lord to smite the enemies of his people.”
I think of this often reading the imprecatory Psalms, prayers where David calls for the literal destruction of God’s enemies as in Psalm 69. And more often their figurative destruction.
Psalms 58 is one example, where those “who go astray from birth, speaking lies… have venom like the venom of serpents.” So David prays that God would “break the teeth in their mouths.”
These are emotions we sometimes share. Islamist terrorist, human traffickers, pedophiles—there is no punishment too harsh for them. There is justice to be served, and like David we are impatient for it.
My favorite line in this Psalm is “let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime.” It’s less violent, but it captures our sentiment exactly. We want their actions, indeed their very lives, to be meaningless, empty, inconsequential.
And in fact they will be. The Psalm ends this way: “Mankind will say ‘surely there is a reward for righteousness; surely there is a God who judges on earth.’”
That’s our prayer for these times:
Let evildoers be like the snail that dissolves into nothing.
God make it so.