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November 15, 2011


Bob MacDonald

I think putting down this psalm's ending by rejecting it is too obvious a solution to the enigma of the enemy in the psalms. The perfect hatred is enclosed examine--know--way, matching the opening verses. It is similar to the request of Psalm 19 re hidden faults. Hatred is perhaps the necessary choice, not the emotion with which we are accustomed to hearing this word.

Jim Gordon

Thanks Bob - I think there are a couple of initial responses. First, I don't think I did put the ending of the Psalm down - I fully acknowledged it as an authentic expression of human experience. The most telling comment on it is the claim of Jesus, 'You have heard that it was said you shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy. But I say unto you......" I cannot be a follower of Jesus and not take seriously the radical call to love the enemy, not hate them.
My second comment is that I'm not clear on how hatred is a necessary choice, and certainly not one without emotion - which would be even more chilling.The enigma of the enemy in the Psalms, and in the human experience of our world, remains, but is challenged by the mystery of a love that will not mirror hate for hate, and certainly that will not make hatred into an art form - perfect hatred is a tragic oxymoron for me. And I'm still left with the reality of the God who while we were enemies died for us.

Bob MacDonald

Jacob have I loved, Esau I have hated. These are words that express a choice and they are put in the mouth of Yhvh. (And quoted in Romans 9:13) That was why I used 'choice' above. While I agree with you about praying for and loving enemies, I am no less enemy to them or they to me. I must say that I find it easier to see the psalms than to express what they say to me.

Bob MacDonald

Hi again from across the waters - and continuing thanks for your advent meditation. I came today to be working on Psalm 139 - and I note that I translated this verse as "a consummation of hatred - I hate them // as enemies they are to me".

It strikes me that if I were reading this in the role of the first century Jesus, he would see that the consummation of hatred was to be absorbed by himself in his hour of judgment, completing and consummating the creation and redemption of the world as intimated by Genesis 2:4a.

My justification for reading the psalms this way is the work of the author of Hebrews who uses the psalms as the text of the dialogue between the Father and the Son. Yet this dialogue does not exclude any who read the psalms in the role of the elect.

This too is a transformation of the enemy - and refuses to let us read the enemy as object and separated from reader.

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