The Slaughter of Children
A mother in Syria trapped between civil war and ISIS squints across the desert. There’s fear. At dusk ISIS smashes down her front door. Her children huddle around her, but there’s no safety. A primitive sword severs the head of her two-year-old and then another swoop. Her baby is divided in two. Beaten, raped, and starved, she is enslaved. This woman, living this horror, understands the cry for righteous vengeance erupting at the close of Psalm 137.
“Daughter of Babylon, the devastator, O the happiness of the one who pays you backs with what you have done to us! Happy is the one who seizes and smashes your children against the rock.” Psalm 137:8-9
This visceral curse against the wicked is far from our Savior’s cry from the cross, “Forgive them for they know not what they do.” Our Savior today does command us to forgive our enemies and pray for those who despitefully use us. But this blood-chilling cry from an Israelite who saw the Babylonians destroy his beloved city and massacre its children must not be silenced and forgotten. The unrepentant wicked will face pure justice in the end.
When Jesus comes at the climax of Revelation, he’s not going to say to Antichrist and his followers, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Instead Revelation 19:12-13 states, “His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems. He has a name written that no one knows but he himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood and the name by which he is called is “The Word of God.”
The hymnbook of Israel began with God blowing away the wicked (Psalm 1:6), laughing at those who mocked his Anointed (Psalm 2:4) and breaking them with a rod of iron (Psalm 2:9). The curse against the wicked pronounced at the conclusion of this Psalm dares the wicked to forget the finality of God’s vindication.
LORD, as Hitler gassed over six million of your people, over a million of them young children, he arrogantly laughed. In 1945 he was the fool thinking he escaped your justice. Help me to have a healthy fear and reverence for your right and might knowing that evil will not ultimately win.
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