I’d wager that if you asked a large number of evangelicals what their favorite books of the Bible were, a significant percentage, would include the Psalms among them. And, I’d wager, that just as large a number as said so, are unfamiliar with the Psalms.
I would want to ask them, “Have you ever really read the Psalms?” Sure, they love the 23rd Psalm, and that verse on their coffee mug; they enjoy their devotional literature with excerpts from the psalms, and they “like” those picturesque memes with psalm references making their rounds on Facebook—but have they ever studied the Psalms.
It’s like a person who encounters a pet tiger, and as a result, concludes that tigers are the most wonderful of animals and that everyone should have one as a pet. How many tigers have you met? Do you really know tigers?
The reason I conclude that evangelicals are largely ignorant of the Psalms is this, evangelicalism is effeminate and emasculated. Doubt me? I dare you to walk into a Christian bookstore with open eyes or look around the average evangelical church observing the programming and try to continue deluding yourself.
This is to say nothing against femininity, for femininity not only complements, but encourages masculinity. To be effeminate is against both the masculine and the feminine—it is a marring of both. When men act like women, you’ll find women acting like men, and the result is that you have neither true masculinity nor femininity.
Oddly to some, a cure for this limp-wristedness is poetry. Not poetry like that which you see coming out of the Romantic period, so bent on emotion, but something closer to the Iliad and the Odyssey or Beowulf. David would retch to see his lyrics associated, nearly exclusively, with floral prints and pristine scenery. Not that such imagery is always inappropriate, but that it fails to capture the sweat, blood, fear, and war of the Psalter.
If you could juice the psalms you’d readily know a chief ingredient to be tears, sweat, and blood.
A clear indication of the effeminacy of the church is her refusal to face up to the reality of the psalms. When we come to the imprecatory psalms, those which speak a curse upon enemies, we’re altogether uncomfortable. We’re confused. Thus, we either ignore, them, perhaps naively brushing them off as Old Testament and irrelevant, or, we reject their inspiration altogether. One theologian, J. Sidlow Baxter, has written, “To some minds, these imprecatory passages are perhaps a more difficult obstacle than any other in the way of a settled confidence in the Divine inspiration of the Scriptures.”
A great deal of clarity can be brought to the issue with this question, “Whose side are you on?” While we herald the good news of Jesus Christ longing for the repentance of all men, we also long for the day of His return and the vanquishing of His foes. Jesus is King. Ultimately, may all who refuse to repent of their rebellion perish. The imprecatory psalms are not Old Testament. They’re so new they’ve yet to fully be.
“This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering— since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed (2 Thessalonians 1:5–10 ESV).”