There was wisdom in some of what Monica taught, yet I found myself with questions and concerns that I will outline as I go through my notes and post my thoughts.
Monica started out by saying that a core benefit of Jesus' work on the cross is that we can be fully known and fully loved. She asked the ladies if any of them felt any awkwardness or angst at coming to the retreat, then said that the anxieties are unnecessary if we grasp the truth that we are truly fully known and truly fully loved by our Creator and Saviour.
She then played a video. Go here to see and hear the one she played. It is far more powerful than the one I have included above. Listen to it, then read on.
Monica pointed out that the video skips verses 19 - 22. It's the only portion in the entire Psalm that expresses negative emotion, she told us.
19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!O men of blood, depart from me!20 They speak against you with malicious intent;your enemies take your name in vain!21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?22 I hate them with complete hatred;I count them my enemies.
Monica asked us to consider that those verses expressing passionate negative emotion may be part of the "grievous thoughts" that end the Psalm.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!Try me and know my thoughts!24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,and lead me in the way everlasting!
Anxieties, harmful thoughts - these are not appropriate for a child of God, she thought.
I cannot agree with her premise that verses 19 - 22 were part of the anxious thoughts that are grievous.
Amongst the psalms of petitionary prayer are the imprecatory psalms, which are characterized by expression of revenge or curses. The psalmist passionately beseeches God to curse or to destroy his enemies. ~from "Teach Us to Pray, edited by D.A. Carson. P. 50 (Five Different Kinds of Prayer in the Psalms)
These kinds of passionate pleas to God for revenge are not offered simply because of personal hatred or revenge, but because the psalmist is zealous for God's righteousness. Often the psalmist beseeches God to execute justice on the earth.
Psalm 139 begins by asserting that God knows all there is to know about me. This knowledge is too wonderful for me to completely understand. I cannot comprehend His love and care for me.
There is no place I can go where He is not with me. There is nowhere in the universe that God will not be present to lead and hold me, and nowhere too dark for God to see me. He even saw me and loved me before I was born! I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and my God has cared for me from the beginning.
God's thoughts are so very precious to me! I cannot number them - they are vast, like the stars in the sky or the sand on the seashores. I cannot begin to count the thoughts God has towards me.
My response to all of these truths is sheer joy and delight! God deserves our praise. Yet those who do not know or love Him pay no attention to His word. They don't consider that God formed and fashioned them in the womb. They ignore His words and dismiss His thoughts. Instead of living with their heart towards God, they deny His very existence and treat His people wickedly.
So, no wonder that the next few verses are a plea that God would slay the wicked! The psalmist, my ESV notes say,
delights in God and in his knowledge and presence: the wicked person, who joins with men of blood (i.e., who ruthlessly shed blood), who speak against God with malicious intent, is someone who actively opposes God and his gracious purpose. When God displays his justice in the earth, if these people will not repent, he will indeed slay them; until then, the faithful do not want to be identified with them (depart from me);I appreciated the video and the initial thought that we who are children of God are fully known by Him - He knows every thought, word and deed, and we are fully loved. Even though I disagreed with the premise that those few "negative" verses were part of the "grievous thoughts", I was intrigued. Stay tuned for the rest of it, starting with tomorrow's post.