Psalms 44, 74, 79, and 80: Anger and Forgiveness   Leave a comment




Psalms 44, 74, 79, and 80


Psalms 44, 74, 79, and 80 are similar to each other, hence my grouping of them together.

The context, at least some of the time, is the aftermath of the Temple in 587/586 B.C.E.  Even if this is not the original context for all four psalms, that event provides a powerful prism for a collective lament to God.  Has God abandoned the people?  The answer in the Book of Psalms and elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible is “no.”  Yet, in the heat of the moment, this may not seem clear and obvious.

The Temple was a tangible sign of religious unity.  The Ark of the Covenant had been there.  Even after the removal of the Ark of the Covenant from the Temple, the complex remained a focal point of communal spiritual life.  Yet, in the wake of the fall of the Kingdom of Judah and the destruction of the Temple, the center was gone.  Yet God remained present.

Since the Roman destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E., Judaism has moved on from the Temple.  The faith did not move on overnight, though.  Many Jews must have prayed at least some of the laments in the wake of 70 C.E.

Faith communities have their foci.  When a community loses its symbol of unity–its tangible focus–or a force threatens or seems to threaten that symbol, emotional and spiritual venom may flow.  The dark side of religion may seem to be pious, but it is not.  And those who spew this venom may believe themselves to be justified in their rancor.  All this is predictable and consistent with human nature.

Do we believe that God also loves those we call enemies?  Do our attitudes in the heat of loss and anguish belie our generous sentiments and slogans from good times?  How God expresses divine love is for God to decide.  Likewise, how we process God loving everyone is for us to decide.  If God were to forgive our enemies, would we think of that as being bad?  Or do we want our foes to suffer?

If I were to write, O reader, that I have always been spiritually generous, I would lie.  I have prayed more than one that God would smite someone or certain people.  Anger is a powerful emotion; may nobody underestimate it.  I know from experience that the longer anger persists, the more spiritually corrosive it becomes.  I know because I have recognized the signs of that corrosion in myself.

So, venting at God is fine.  Then letting go and letting God needs to follow.  Even if letting go as to move forward occurs before forgiveness does, letting go represents tangible progress.  Tangible progress is fine; we cannot do everything at once.  God knows that we are “but dust” (Psalm 103).  Do we know that?






Posted January 6, 2023 by neatnik2009 in Psalm 103, Psalm 44, Psalm 74, Psalm 79, Psalm 80

Tagged with ,

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: