Some of the thoughts we encounter in the Psalms sound less than “Christian”. For example, this week we read in Psalm 58:6-8 of the psalm writer calling on God to deal with their enemies this way: 6 Break off their fangs, O God! Smash the jaws of these lions, O LORD! 7 May they disappear like water into thirsty ground. Make their weapons useless in their hands. 8 May they be like snails that dissolve into slime, like a stillborn child who will never see the sun. 9 God will sweep them away, both young and old, faster than a pot heats over burning thorns. (NLT)
When we read the New Testament, we learn from Jesus a different approach - to pray for our enemies and not seek revenge (Matthew 5:44). To understand this, a few things need to be kept in mind and the Quest Study Bible explains them well: (1) Cursing evil nations and people in the Old Testament was a call for God’s justice more than merely personal revenge. The writers wanted God to vindicate His reputation and protect His people. (2) David, who wrote this Psalm, was personally shown mercy instead of justice several times and he also gave mercy to those who had done wrong, leaving judgement in God’s hands. (3) David and the other Old Testament writers had not experienced the full revelation of God’s heart, will and purposes because Jesus hadn’t come yet. As the Quest says, “It’s hardly fair to expect Old Testament people to act “Christian” before Christ came”.
There will be a time when God wraps up history and justice will be served. Our opportunity now is to live so that others see Christ’s example in and through us and to encourage them to surrender to follow him and find mercy and the new life He offers us.
20 Now do you see it? No one can ever be made right in God’s sight by doing what the law commands. For the more we know of God’s laws, the clearer it becomes that we aren’t obeying them; his laws serve only to make us see that we are sinners. 21 But now God has shown us a different way to heaven —not by "being good enough" and trying to keep his laws, but by a new way (though not new, really, for the Scriptures told about it long ago). 22 Now God says he will accept and acquit us—declare us "not guilty"—if we trust Jesus Christ to take away our sins. And we all can be saved in this same way, by coming to Christ, no matter who we are or what we have been like. 23 Yes, all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious ideal; 24 yet now God declares us "not guilty" of offending him if we trust in Jesus Christ, who in his kindness freely takes away our sins. Romans 3:20-24 (TLB)