Vengeance Times Seven

lukodi drawingO Lord, pay back our neighbors seven times
for the scorn they have hurled at you.
Psalm 79:12 (NLT)

A year ago our kids, Taylor and Clayton, travelled to Uganda. Taylor put her Art Therapy education to work with young women and children in Lukodi who had been victims of local terrorists calling themselves The Lord’s Resistance Army. Taylor brought home a stack of pictures drawn by children. Mixed among the very child-like images of a soccer match, a church, or tree there were equally child-like images of their homes burning, giant men with guns hovering over them, and dead bodies lying on the ground bleeding. The reality of the horror these children had experienced drawn by their own hands is heart wrenching. My soft-hearted daughter came home with that soft-heart ripped open and the realization that there was a threshold on what she could handle as an Art Therapist.

I am blessed to have lived a life relatively free of tragedy. I cannot, and hope that I will not, ever experience the horrors like those of the women and children of Lukodi, or the horrors Asaph describes in today’s psalm of those who suffered through and witnessed the seige and destruction of both Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple.

Scholars call pslams like today’s an imprecatory psalm. It is the blues on steroids in which the song writer not only expresses their pain, but also their desire for revenge. It is an angry call for vengeance. In Asaph’s lyric scream, he calls for vengeance multiplied seven times. In God’s Message, seven is a special number. It is the number of “completion” and in calling for vengeance times seven Asaph is asking for complete destruction of his enemies. I can only imagine that the hunger for vengeance is a very real, very natural, very human emotion for those who have suffered unspeakable atrocities at the hands of others.

I can’t condemn victims for wanting vengeance. I think it is a very real emotion that needs to be expressed in healthy ways whether that be a crayon drawing, a poem, or a blues song. Yet, this morning as I read Asaph’s call for vengeance times seven I was reminded of Jesus’ response when Peter asked if he should forgive someone seven times to make sure he had completely forgiven the person. “Not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven.”

6 thoughts on “Vengeance Times Seven”

  1. 8Do not hold us guilty for the sins of our ancestors!

    We have been dealing with a couple of issues at our household that led us into a conversation about generational sin. I happen to subscribe to the notion. Whether it’s genetic traits that are passed along, generational sin or both I’m unsure, but we are dealing with behaviors that I pray God will not hold against my kids and their kids.

  2. This also reminds me of Genesis 4:13-15 where Cain complains that is punishment for Abel’s murder is too harsh and he’s afraid that he will be killed under God’s curse. But then God promises sevenfold vengeance upon whomever kills Cain. I’m not sure what other correlation can be drawn between Asaph and Cain besides the severe vengeance mentioned, but it gives me pause to think on it.

    1. Thanks for both your comments! This is a great parallel reference to Cain. I’d forgotten the sevenfold curse, but the concept of vengeance seven times over obviously had resonated in the culture from ancient days. That said, it was a perfect opportunity for Jesus to take a concept that had been ingrained in the culture for centuries, blow it out of the water, and force people to see it from a new truth perspective. Good addition to the conversation and thinking, Samantha!

      1. Thank the Spirit! It just kind of came to me while I was reading your post a second time. And yes, Jesus had a habit of taking cultural patterns and blowing them out of the water. ie: Raising the bar on sin from actions to thoughts, saying that whoever followed his commands was his brother and sister and even mother. I read an extremely interesting commentary on that passage by Richard Wurmbrand I’ll share with you on Facebook once I get a chance to.

  3. My first thought upon finishing this: “Wow.” I’ve had a very blessed life, full of favor and grace that I attribute in large part to the faithful living and continuous prayers of my grandparents. Yet there were some very real and deep emotional pains from my early childhood that have taken me the better part of my walk with Christ to forgive and heal from. Many times I’ve caught myself saying or thinking something that reveals a twinge of old resentment and I have to deal with it quickly.
    Forgive completely? Beyond completely? Forgive the way Christ did? Just….wow. It’s assupernatural thing. One that we all need to ask the Spirit to accomplish in us.

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