Worst Wishes

May what you have stored up for the wicked fill their bellies;
may their children gorge themselves on it,
and may there be leftovers for their little ones.

Psalm 17:14b

If you’ve spent any time thumbing through the Book of Psalms, you’ve probably seen several examples like the one above. This particularly gruesome quote comes from a psalm attributed to David. He’s asking for vindication against his enemies and naysayers.

If someone in my church were to come up to me with such a prayer request, I would advise them to get some counseling! This is some heavy duty retaliatory anger sizzling off the page. If some stranger to the Bible were to flip open the Good Book to this particular verse, they would come away with a very different take on Christianity than the “Love your Neighbor” stuff I tend to preach about on a Sunday morning.

This type of vengeance, the whole “the sins of the father are passed on to the children” kind of sentiment was weeded out of God’s plan somewhere between Exodus and Ezekiel. God does speak about divine vengeance, but will not punish kids for their parent’s sins. Someone should have mentioned that to David. Apparently he didn’t get the memo.

Have you ever been that angry? So filled with disgust that you wish the worst upon your enemy…and your enemy’s family? I don’t think I’ve ever gone there, but I suppose it’s possible. Remember the Hatfields and the McCoys? That was just an indiscriminate feud between two whole families. It didn’t matter what you did or didn’t do. You were cursed because of who you were related to.

I don’t know who David’s feud was with, but it sounds like a bitter one. The whole thing leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I want to tell David to shake it off, to seek reconciliation, to leave judgement to God, to turn the other cheek. I want to introduce him to a man named Jesus who went up on the cross, still willing to forgive those who had wronged him.

If you have something akin to that much hatred inside you, boiling your bones, I really DO suggest you get some counseling. That’s something David may not have had access to. But, like David, letting the contents of your heart known to God, however black it may feel, is always a first step towards moving beyond vengeance to something healthier and more Christlike.

Maybe David wrote this Psalm and got the anger out of his system. All I know for sure is that you and I should choose our words, and the contents of our hearts, carefully.

You never know what your children, and your children’s children might be reading about you.

Have a great week,


One thought on “Worst Wishes

  1. For some reason, WordPress won’t let me post my reply to this great devotion. So, without further ado, here it is:

    So true. And I love the Mother Teresa quote you picked to close it out. Glad you are mending and back to the blogosphere, Mitch! Continued blessings.

    – Russell


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