Day: May 17, 2013

Are you pissed at God?

I’m the divine anger guy.  I’ve written articles recently on “Wrath” in the Dictionary of the Old Testament: Prophets (IVP Bible Dictionary) and Divine Wrath and Divine Compassion in Holy War in the Bible: Christian Morality and an Old Testament Problem.

So, when I was looking at the CBS news website today and I ran across an interview with Ian Punnett, author of How to Pray When You’re Pissed at God: Or Anyone Else for That Matter I was intrigued.  Human anger?  Perhaps a new topic to focus on?

Here’s the link if you want to listen to the interview with the author.  It’s good.

I haven’t bought the book yet, but I probably will just based on the title.  It’s currently in the top 200 on Amazon and the #1 book on prayer right now.

He starts out with an angry tweet from Steve Johnson, wide receiver for the Buffalo Bills who was pissed at God (after he dropped a pass).  Johnson took flack for his angry outburst since people think that pious people don’t talk like that to God, but Punnett thinks he shouldn’t have.  Scripture is full of people who are angry at God.

I could have used this book during the fall when I didn’t understand what God was doing in my life.  I will probably have opportunities in the future when this book will be relevant to my life.  Although, it would be OK if I didn’t.

How do you pray when you’re pissed at God? 

Be careful, though, you don’t want to get struck by lightning.

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Does God Forget? (Psalm 119:49)

Remember your word to your servant,
in which you have made me hope (Psalm 119:49)

String ReminderWhat types of people do you need to say “Remember” to?  People who forget.

Just last night several unnamed members of my family forgot to put dishes in the dishwasher.  So, I reminded them, but surprisingly, they didn’t seem to appreciate my reminder.

As I was working on this I couldn’t remember if I’d blogged on this topic before, so I did a quick search and found this post on “Delighting and Forgetting” based on Psalm 119:16.  Similar, but different.

One would think that divine beings wouldn’t need to be reminded, right?  Does God forget?  I think that the “right” answer is “no”, but then I read the Bible and I’m not so sure.

The author of Psalm 119 is not unique in regards to reminding God.  Interestingly, lots of people in the Old Testament feel a need to remind God to remember.

Moses (Exo. 32:13);
Samson (Judg. 16:28),
Hannah (1 Sam. 1:11),
Solomon (2 Chron. 6:42),
Hezekiah (2 Kgs. 20;30),
Nehemiah (Neh. 1:8; 5:19),
the
psalmist (Psa. 74:2; 89:50),
the author of Lamentations (Lam. 5:1).  

(Notice how I arranged those from shortest to longest?  Freaky, huh?)

That’s an impressive list of divine reminderers (I spelled it that way intentionally).  Do all these people think God forgets?  I’m not sure, but they clearly think it’s OK to nag God about his responsibilities (put your dishes away, remember your word to your servant).

So, why does the author of Psalm 119 (and all these other OT people) tell God to remember?

1) Because God forgets?
2) Because it seems like God forgets?
3) Because the psalmist forgets that God doesn’t forget?

The answer to this question is not clearly found in this verse, but I’m certain that there are times that I forget (#3) and that it seems like God is forgetting (#2).

And I’m also certain that even though I get offended when people remind me about something (“Don’t you trust that I’ll remember?”), God doesn’t.  If he does get offended he shouldn’t have authorized so many of his godly people in Scripture to remind him to remember.

Lest we accuse the psalmist here of arrogance to remind God, he does refer to himself as God’s servant, and the psalmist is clearly in a place of desperation, waiting in hope for God to act.

Once again, Psalm 119 provides a model of bold prayer for us, reminding us to remind God.  Don’t forget.

What do you remind God of?  Which answer (choice 1, 2 or 3) would you give for the question above?

I’ve moved (finally) to the 7th letter of the Hebrew alphabet (zayin) and therefore the 7th section of Psalm 119 (verses 49-56, see below).  The Hebrew verb “remember”, zakar, begins with the letter zayin (see 119:55 below).

Zayin