From Scott Hoezee
A year ago I was sitting at my kitchen table face to face with a stack of 40-some sermons, each based on one of the Psalms. In many of those sermons students struggled to write grace-filled, Gospel-saturated sermons on passages of Hebrew poetry that had no qualms about deriding "the wicked" in colorful terms, even here and there going deep into the land of impreccation in which various body parts of the wicked were depicted as being smashed, crushed, and obliterated. Meanwhile as I read those Psalms and the sermons the students had written on them, the radio was going on and on about the death of Osama bin Laden. NPR reported on throngs of people whooping it up in Times Square, in front of the White House, and in a variety of other locations. And I confess that in my own heart, my first reaction on hearing the news was also a kind of "Yes!"
But I struggled then and since as to how a Christian should react to the form of "justice" that took out the world's most notorious terrorist. My students in their sermons demonstrated that they knew that those who serve a Savior who told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us cannot and should not make too easy recourse to the impreccatory Psalms so as to indulge our vengeful appetites vis-a-vis those who make our lives unpleasant. Yes, as Walter Brueggemann points out, those kinds of Psalms are part and parcel of the larger honesty that the Book of Psalms displays. For people of faith, all forms of speech are allowable even (or perhaps it is especially) before the face of Almighty God. And there is something to that. There is something liberating about seeing the rawness of lament in the Psalms, reminding us that God is big enough to "take it" when we are upset. Lament is not a sign of weak faith but strong, plucky faith.
And curses on our enemies, maledictory prose, likewise shows that when we feel such-and-such a way about someone in our lives--especially those who oppose the ways of God and of God's people--then this, too, can be brought to speech with God. We don't have to pretend those emotions are not a part of us. God understands.