Destroy the enemies (Lam 3:64-3:66)

Taw

“Pay them back

For their deeds!

O Yahweh!

According to the work

Of their hands,

Give them anguish

Of heart!

May your curse

Be on them!

Pursue them

In anger!

Destroy them

From under Yahweh’s heavens!”

This personal lament ends with a plea to Yahweh to destroy his enemies. This author was very clear. He wanted his enemies paid back for what they had done. Yahweh was to use his own hands and his own anger. They were to receive an anguished heart. They should be cursed, pursued, and destroyed. They should be wiped out from under God’s heavens. These three verses start with the final Hebrew consonant letter Taw, since this is the last section of this acrostic poem.

The impenetrable Yahweh (Lam 3:43-3:45)

Samek

“You have wrapped yourself

With anger.

You have pursued us.

You have killed us

Without pity.

You have wrapped yourself

With a cloud.

Thus no prayer

Can pass through.

You have made us filth.

You have made us rubbish.

Among the people.”

This author turns in an unanswered prayer towards Yahweh, addressing him in the second person singular. Yahweh had wrapped himself in anger and a cloud. He had pursued this author and his friends, killing them without pity. Their prayers to Yahweh could not penetrate through the clouds. They had become filth and rubbish among all people as they were forsaken and downtrodden. These three verses start with the Hebrew consonant letter Samek in this acrostic poem.

Yahweh calls the victor from the east (Isa 41:2 -41:4)

“Who has roused a victor from the east?

Who summoned him to service?

He delivers up nations to him.

He tramples kings under foot.

He makes them

Like dust with his sword.

He makes them

Like driven stubble with his bow.

He pursues them.

He passes on safely,

Scarcely toughing the path

With his feet.

Who has performed this?

Who has done this?

He is calling the generations

From the beginning.

I!

Yahweh!

I am the first!

I will be with the last.”

Second Isaiah wants to know who has summoned the victor conquer from the east for service. This victor from the east was Cyrus, the King of Persia from 559-530 BCE, more than two centuries after the time of Isaiah. Cyrus the Great created the largest empire in the world with present day Iran the last vestige of that realm. Cyrus took over many countries, trampling kings. He made them like dust or stubble with his sword as well as his bow and arrows. He pursued many people, but he was always safe with his fast feet that barely touched the ground. Second Isaiah points out that Yahweh was behind Cyrus. Who allowed him to do all these things? Why it was Yahweh, who interjected himself in the first person singular, saying that he was eternally the first and the last.

The power of fire (Wis 16:15-16:19)

“To escape from your hand

Is impossible.

The ungodly,

Refusing to know you,

Were flogged

By the strength of your arm.

They were pursued

By unusual rains.

They were pursued

By hail.

They were pursued

By relentless storms.

They were utterly consumed

By fire.

Most incredible of all,

In water,

Which quenches all things,

The fire had still greater effect.

The universe defends the righteous.

At one time,

The flame was restrained.

Thus it might not consume the creatures

Sent against the ungodly.

But seeing this,

They might know

That they were being pursued

By the judgment of God.

At another time,

Even in the midst of water

It burned more intensely than fire.

Thus they destroyed the crops

Of the unrighteous land.”

It is impossible to escape from the hand of God (σὴν χεῖρα), so that the ungodly (ἀσεβεῖς) were flogged with his hands. God pursued them with unusual rains, hail, and storms. However, they were consumed by fire. The water was not able to put out the powerful fire (δύναμιν φλέγει). In fact, the righteous and the creatures against the ungodly were saved. The ungodly, however, were to learn that they were pursued by the judgment of God (Θεοῦ κρίσει). Even in the middle of water the fires destroyed the crops of the unrighteous.

The enemy is after David (Ps 143:3-143:4)

“The enemy has pursued me.

He has crushed my life to the ground.

He has made me sit in darkness

Like those long dead.

Therefore my spirit faints within me.

My heart within me is appalled.”

The situation of David is described as being pursued by his enemies. He seems like he has been crushed to the ground. He sat in darkness as if he were dead. His spirit was fainting as mentioned above. His heart was appalled. He was in bad shape.

The stories about David (Ps 109:16-109:19)

“He did not remember to show kindness.

He pursued the poor and needy.

He pursued the brokenhearted to their death.

He loved to curse.

Let curses come on him!

He did not like blessing.

May it be far from him!

He clothed himself with cursing as his coat.

May it soak into his body like water!

May it soak into his bones like oil!

May it be like a garment that he wraps around himself!

May it be like a belt with that he wears everyday!”

This is one of the few descriptions of David that is not favorable. It was an attempt to portray David as some others saw him. Apparently David did not show kindness. He pursued the poor, the needy, and brokenhearted to their death. He loved to curse so that curses should come back on him. He did not like blessings as he clothed himself in cursing. Thus the wish was for him to soak his body like water and his bones like oil. He should wear these garments and belts every day. Somehow he was to wear something like a scarlet letter of disapproval so that all could see it.

Defeat our current enemies (Ps 83:13-83:18)

“O my God!

Make them like whirling dust!

Make them like chaff before the wind.

As fire consumes the forest,

As the flame sets the mountains ablaze,

So pursue them with your tempest!

Terrify them with your hurricane!

Fill their faces with shame!

Thus they may seek your name.

Yahweh!

Let them be put to shame!

Let them be dismayed forever!

Let them perish in disgrace!

Let them know that you alone,

Whose name is Yahweh,

Are the Most High over all the earth.”

This psalm ends with a call for Yahweh to do as he had done in the past. Very specifically this psalmist wants Yahweh to make all the Israelite enemies like whirling dust or chaff before the wind. He wanted them burned like a forest or mountain fire. He wanted them pursued and terrified like in a hurricane. They were to be filled with shame. They were to die in disgrace. They were to know that there was only one God, Yahweh, who ruled the earth. In a certain sense, this prayer was a curse to the present and traditional enemies of Israel.