“Make them like tumbleweed, my God,
Like chaff before the wind.
As fire consumes the forest
Or the flame sets the mountains ablaze
So pursue them with your tempest
And terrify them with your storm.”
They say that revenge is a dish best served cold. Nobody told that to Asaph, the writer of Psalm 83. There isn’t anything cold about his prayer! There’s nothing sweet and cuddly in this conversation with God. He’s feeling threatened, his people are threatened, and he wants God to fly into action on his behalf.
A forest fire is terrifying! Nothing is left standing. All life is threatened. There’s no controlling that kind of devastation. Just black, scorched earth left behind. “That sounds about right,” says old Asaph.
Prayer, honest prayer, is the right way to deal with longing for revenge. God makes it clear several times in the Bible that revenge is His job, not ours. That doesn’t mean we don’t want it and even cry out for it, but exacting a pound of flesh (or some other suitable retribution) is not our job. We best leave that to the One who knows best.
Today you may need to pray about a relationship in your life in which you harbour bitterness, resentment, or rage. You may want full-out revenge. Read Psalm 83 out loud—that may help you articulate your own feelings.
Asaph does include a line that may also be a help to you. (It’s still brutal but I think he’s starting to see the Bigger picture.)
Cover their faces with shame, LORD
So that they will seek your name.
Praying my longings for revenge alongside you this day.