THE PSALMS AND VENGEANCE THAT IS
Questions arise from the psalms of vengeance. One thing to consider is that the Old Testament
Psalms wrestle with the problems of human existence within the context of this life – the “three score years
and ten” of Psalm 90:10. Lacking the eschatological horizon of the New Testament, they concentrate on the
problems of life now with a
fierce and passionate intensity.
The psalmists do not take seriously the possibility that the imbalances of life will somehow be
corrected in another form of existence beyond our historical experience. God’s dealings with men are confined
to this earthly life. For them, as for many modern people, death is the final limitation; accordingly, the
answers to the question of existence must be found now. They thirst for God in the present, and seek the
satisfaction of that thirst in the historical arena.
In the New Testament, of course, this barrier is broken through. There the good news rings out
that in Jesus Christ, God has conquered the power of death and has thrown open the door into the future.
The Christian church reads the psalmists’ cries for vindication in the larger context of the
whole Bible which reaches a climax with the announcement that the Vindicator has already responded to his
people’s cries in Jesus Christ. The New Testament witnesses that Christ has experienced man’s cry “out of the
depths”. Not only does Christ pray with us in all human suffering, but he enables men to have a confidence
which makes them “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:31-39).
Source: Notes taken and adapted from Bernhard W. Anderson, Out of the
Depths: The Psalms Speak for Us Today (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1974),