Psalm 9:3 – IS GOD CRUEL, VIOLENT, UNJUST AND INTOLERANT? – Part 1

Posted: October 12, 2019 in Psalms
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Is God cruel, violent, unjust and intolerant? © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Psalm 9:3 – IS GOD CRUEL, VIOLENT, UNJUST AND INTOLERANT? – Part 1

Psalm 9:3 (NLT) says, “My enemies retreated; they staggered and died when You (God Most High) appeared.”   

I was interested to read the take on Psalm 9:3 from “The Skeptics Annotated Bible”. I was a little shocked by the rather ruthless emojis representing God as cruel, violent, unjust and intolerant, and a statement about this verse. It said, “If you pray to God, he will kill your enemies and destroy cities for you”. I wonder what David would say in conversation with this Skeptic. 

DAVID: I have to wonder – is this how people see God when they are reading my Psalm? Is this what people think about God? If it is, then perhaps you have misunderstood me altogether.

SKEPTIC: I don’t think I have misunderstood you. You say your enemies staggered and died in the presence of God (verse 3), that He rebukes and judges people (verse 5), completely erasing them from the earth (verse 6), that this is the fate of all nations who ignore God (verse 17). You actually ask God to judge them (verse 19). 

DAVID: Strange. You have not looked at the full context of my Psalm to see what I am really trying to express about God?

I notice that you have conveniently forgotten that I describe God as One who is a shelter for the oppressed (verse 9), does not abandon people (verse 10), cares for the helpless (verse 12), saves and rescues (verse 14), and has mercy (verse 13). He does marvelous things (verse 1), and reigns forever (verse 7), In fact, He is the only One truly able to judge nations with justice and fairness (verse 4), yet there are some mere mortals who have chosen to defy Him (verse 19-20). 

SKEPTIC: Yet you can just pray to God and ask Him to wipe out people with complete impunity? How can you believe in a God like that.

DAVID: I find great joy in my relationship with God (verse 2) and so I began my Psalm with praise. God is not just anyone. He is God Most High (verse 2), higher in authority than anyone we may encounter on earth.

Impunity hardly applies to a just and fair God. It is not God that needs our impunity. Nowhere in my Psalm do I indicate that God is cruel, violent, intolerant and unjust, as you describe Him. 

My Psalm describes a God who is perfectly Just, not stupid or oblivious to what is going on around Him and He is only One who can respond appropriately in His own way and His own time, always doing what is right. 

Clearly my Psalm indicates that any person is free to defy God, but why would they think that putting their heads in the spiritual sand will somehow mean that a just and fair God will simply stand by. There are consequences for any of our choices, not only with other people but also with God. 

SKEPTIC: So you are OK with Him wiping out your enemies completely?

DAVID: I would prefer that I didn’t have enemies, but I do. By the way, my enemies are characterised by all the things that you attribute to God – cruelty, violence, intolerance and injustice. 

In this Psalm you can obviously see that my enemies are described as wicked (verse 5), oppressive (verse 9), cause trouble (verse 9), hate people (verse 13), appear to be flaunting any form of justice (verse 16), forget the needy (verse 18), destroy hope in people and afflict them (verse 18, 12). My enemies want me, and anyone who follows God, dead. The equivalent in your time is perhaps Isis or the Taliban.

SKEPTIC: So you pray that God will destroy them?

DAVID: I recognise that anyone who tries to stand against God Most High will fail. And yes, I pray for justice to prevail. 

I do pray to God. With all my heart (verse 1). But my prayer is a prayer of praise, not just an anxious cry for help. I am not seeking to be an arrogant man wanting to cause death and destruction to all who disagree with me. 

SKEPTIC: But you clearly think that God is on your side?

DAVID: No. Just the opposite. God is not my servant, like some Genie in a bottle. I am God’s servant. God judges with fairness (verse 4,8) and I do not anticipate God will simply stand aside while my enemies come to annihilate His servants. 

To be continued….

Is God Cruel, Violent, Unjust and Intolerant? What gives Him the right to think He can demand things of me? What gives Him the right to judge me? Read part 2.

Pastor Ross

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