by Ken Sehested
The lectionary suggestion of the psalm for the day (104:24-34—Pentecost, Year A) stops one verse short of its frightful ending. Verse 35 reads: “Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more.”
I’m guessing the lectioners stopped short for fear of ruffling genteel decorum and to maintain order and decency.
To be sure, the psalmist’s imprecatory rage is processed in lament before God—and is no sanction for lethal vengeance, however just our intent. But as long as the assaults now raining in the streets of the meek never raise an ache in our bodies nor a bruise on our hearts, we will never know the urgency of the Advocate’s liberating word. Intercession implies a certain interposition.
To pray such prayers is to acknowledge the outrage, to be shaken from indifference, to confess that God is not neutral in the affairs of the earth. To issue such curses, there in the very sanctuary of praise, is to proclaim the violation an affront not just to human decency but to the Holy One whose very Name is at stake. To bring grief to speech is itself a sign we have not given up on the Promise of a new heaven and a new earth.
Blessed are you who mourn, for your Comforter hears and hurries.
©Ken Sehested @ prayerandpolitiks.org