Chapters 3 & 4
Chapters 3 & 4 E-mail

Reflections on the Psalms

Chapter 3 -- The Cursings

1.      List some of the curses the author of Psalm 109 wishes would befall his enemy.  Are you surprised to find these sentiments in the Bible?  How do you feel about this Psalm and others like it?



2.      What two admissions have to be made before delving into the imprecatory psalms?



3.      What two good uses can we make of the imprecatory psalms?



4.      What do you think of Lewis's theory that "those who are readiest to die for a cause may easily become those who are readiest to kill for it"?



5.      When might the absence of anger be an alarming symptom?



6.      What danger exists in superimposing "thus saith the Lord" to our own hatred or desire for vengeance?



7.      What aspect of "the Divine voice" can be heard in the imprecatory psalms?



8.      If you have access to a copy, read pages 133-39 of Philip Yancey's The Bible Jesus Read.  The excerpt is titled "Problem Psalms."  He discusses three of the explanations proffered for these psalms:

(1)   "The cursing psalms express an appropriate ‘righteous anger' over evil."
(2)   "The cursing psalms express a spiritual immaturity corrected by the New Testament."
(3)   "The cursing psalms are best understood as prayers."

      Which, if any, explanation resonates with you?




Chapter 4 -- Death in the Psalms

9.      Do you agree or disagree with the case Lewis makes that the afterlife does not figure prominently in the Psalms?



10.  Lewis argues that concern for an afterlife is not a religious subject.  Why?  Do you agree or disagree?



11.  What danger might come from a premature focus upon heaven?



12.  Lewis concludes that something other than peace and plenty in this world was the center focus of the Jewish faith.  What leads him to this conclusion?




Notes:

Mr. Pilgrim
(1904-1954):  Edward Pilgrim was a toolmaker who purchased an adjacent tract of land in 1949 for £400 to use as a buffer around his home.  Unbeknownst to him, recent legislation allowed local councils to purchase land at agricultural values, rather than the higher commercial or development values.  The town council exercised its right to purchase the tract in 1952 for £65 and built a high-rise, which blocked Pilgrim's natural light and eliminated his peace and quiet.  In 1954, Pilgrim hung himself in a tool shed located on the lot.  The press made his suicide a cause célèbre.

Committee of Public Safety
(1793-95):  operated as the de facto executive government of France during the violent Reign of Terror.  The Committee was responsible for thousands of executions.

Witch of Endor
:  In 1 Samuel 28, a medium King Saul consulted for advice about an invading army.  Resort to mediums was prohibited by the Mosaic law (Leviticus 19:31).

Sadducees:  a priestly, aristocratic sect within the Jewish Sanhedrin that rejected the teaching of an afterlife, a resurrection, or the existence of angels and demons.  Their doctrinal position adds to the irony of the question they posed to Jesus in Mark 12:18-27.

© 2010 by Allyson Wieland