Thursday, October 22, 2015

Psalm 139:19-22 - The 31 Day Challenge

If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty! 
 They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.
Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.
Psalm 139:19-22 

I have read these verses over and over.  I do not understand them.  Because I do not understand them, I don't like them.

Did I just say that?  Did I really just say that I don't like part of' Gods Holy Word?  Yep, I did.  And I think it may be okay.

Bear with me here.  Hopefully, you are not too offended to keep reading my trail of thoughts.

So when I look at these four verses, I have more questions than answers.  How can the same God who is love be talking about hate?  What is that word hate doing in there anyway?  I thought we were supposed to be bearers of love and light, not hate and all that goes with it.  These verses clearly talk about hating those enemies who God hates.  When I think of enemies of God, I think people who are against God.  Or are they talking about spiritual forces that are invisible to the human eye but are nevertheless all around us?  Believe me, that whole dialogue makes me have even more questions.  What is this section even doing in this Psalm anyway?  The whole chapter is about God's immeasurable power and sovereignty as He created us to be fearfully and wonderfully made and unlike any other anywhere.  In my mind, it doesn't seem to fit here.

So I have pondered these verses a lot, and I just don't get it.  (For the record, I know I could look up commentaries on these and get more information, and I may.  Someday.  For today though, I am relying on my own reflections.)   I cannot reconcile how the hate parts fit with the message of love that permeates the whole Bible.  

I have decided to focus on what I do know instead.  Here is what I have come up with.

1.  I don't understand this section.  As I try to make sense of the world around me and my place within it, I see things all around me that I don't understand.  My natural tendency is to automatically dislike anything that I can't figure out.  That is not a reflection of God or His Word, but of me and my ability to perceive and connect.

2.  The Bible is vast.  There are 66 books penned by more than a dozen individuals.  There are 1189 chapters and over 31,000 verses within those chapters.  The time period spans hundreds, even thousands of years and multiple locations.  The original texts were written in Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek.  I am not a Biblical scholar nor have any experience with any of those languages.  Even with the most conscientious translations into English, there are still nuances of meaning that get lost.  With this enormity of text, it is okay that I do not understand every single bit.  That is just more reason to keep studying and asking questions.

3.  2 Timothy 3:17 tells us that All Scripture is God-breathed and useful for teaching, righteousness, rebuking, correcting, and training up. So it comes down to this for me.  Do I believe it or not?  If the Bible says All Scripture, doesn't it mean All? I once heard a Beth Moore talk, where she gave a humorous and detailed explanation of her quest to find the etymological root of the word all.  Her conclusion:  all means all, in every language she searched.  So if all Scripture is God-breathed and useful, that would include these four verses in Psalm 139.  I may not be able to piece it together, but they are in there by design.  His design.  The same God who crafted me together perfectly also crafted together this seamless book of His.  

4.  I will continue to study and reflect on His Word.  I have the rest of my life to hone and deepen my understanding and make new connections.  I don't have to have all the answers.  But I know the One who does.

5.  I accept and revere the entire Bible, not just the bits and pieces that I understand and like.

I am still struggling with comprehending this section, but I am confident that it is okay to ask questions and to continue to wrestle with the ideas.

Question for you:  Are there sections or verses with which you struggle?  How do you reconcile your understanding with the Bible as a whole?

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