Terror No More: Psalm 9/10 and a terrible week in Canada

“Terror no more.”

That’s how Psalm 10 ends.

Three words that resonate so powerfully with the reality of so many
around the world
and this week speak into the heart of the Canadian experience.

Let’s be clear, terror is the daily reality of a significant portion of the human family.

The terror of armed violence.
The terror of religious persecution.
The terror of sexual violation.
The terror of racial genocide.

And while we’re at it:

The terror of abject poverty.
The terror of oppressive working conditions.
The terror of ecological devastation.

There’s a lot of terror going around,
and this week it struck home in Canada,
and we were “terrorized.”

“Terror no more.”

That’s how this psalm,
(which is really one acrostic (alphabetic) psalm that includes Psalm 9)
ends.

How could that be?
How could it be that there would be “terror no more”?

Only if there was justice for the oppressed,
if the meek really do start inheriting the earth,
and if God gets back on his throne
and starts handing out some real judgements.

Here’s the thing.
While we may not like this language of judgement,
the oppressed cannot afford the luxury of a world without it.

God’s judgement cuts through the deceit and names evil violence for what it is,
whether on Parliament Hill in the hands of a man bent on murder,
or on Parliament Hill in legislation that excludes the refugee,
despoils the earth, and favours the rich.

The psalmist deconstructs the spin and rhetoric of those who are powerful
to be the path of murder, oppression
and violence that it is.

The psalmist recognizes that discourse always shapes praxis,
that manipulative speech
always legitimates violent action.

And he says that all of this talk boils down to one arrogant proclamation:
“There is no God.”

Let there be no mistake,
when humans engage in violence against one another,
and violence against the earth,
they are always saying,
“There is no God,”
regardless of whether they evoke the name of “Allah,” “Jesus,” “God,” or any other kind of deity.

You cannot kill in the name of “Allah.”
That is blasphemy.
You cannot kill and say “God bless Canada.”
That too is blasphemy.

But you can pray that God will break the arm of the oppressor.

“Break the arm of the wicked and the evildoers;
seek out their wickedness until you find none.”

You can’t swing a sword or shoot a rifle with a broken arm.
And so the psalmist prays for radical disarmament – literally.

But notice what else he prays:
“seek out their wickedness until you find none.”

When will it be that we can say, with tears flowing, “terror no more”?
When the God of judgement can find no more wickedness.

Come soon, Lord Jesus.

Brian Walsh
Brian is an activist theologian and the CRC Campus Minister at the University of Toronto. He engages issues of theology and culture, and has written a couple of books you might want to check out. His most recent offering is entitled Kicking at the Darkness: Bruce Cockburn and the Christian Imagination.

4 Responses to “Terror No More: Psalm 9/10 and a terrible week in Canada”

  1. Wayne Rumsby

    Hmmm, God who? Or which God? Driscoll’s God? Hinn’s God? NT’s God, or Jake’s God? Rohr’s God? God who? The Old testament God or the New? The Jesus God on the cross or the Triune? or the mono? The mystical God or JND’s dispensational (modern) God. Every time I hear this kind of rhetoric I hear the words “No true Scott…” The bad guys God is not true, my God is THE GOD—really? God who?

    Reply
    • Brian Walsh

      Well Wayne, that may well be the question. But how about if we hang out with the God who is addressed in this psalm? Which God do we meet here? And why are the oppressors so hellbent on sidelining, silencing and censoring that God? Why are they running from that God, denying that God, presuming that this God neither sees their oppression nor hears the cries of the oppressed? Which God is this?

      Maybe one way to determine whether we are talking about the same God as the psalmist is whether the God (or god) that we are talking about can serve to legitimate and sanction the violence – either of the so-called ‘terrorists’, or of a system that is rooted in and sustained by violence. The God who bears the violence of the world on a cross cannot be used as ideological justification for the imposition of such violence on others.

      Thanks for replying, Wayne.

      Reply
  2. Wayne Rumsby

    …can serve to legitimate and sanction the violence… As in Psalm 137:9, or 2 Chronicles 13:15-18, or Numbers 16:41-49, or Joshua 6:20-21, or Deuteronomy 2:32-35, or Numbers 31:7-18, or 1 Samuel 15:1-9, or 1 Samuel 6:19, or Joshua 10:10-11, or Judges 21:1-23, or Judges 11:30-39, or Leviticus 26:27-29. There may be more, but my point is that as far back as recorded history, we have been playing this game of the True God is on our side. When we can admit that our god is a terrorist then we may begin to undo some of the problem. The biblical god is just another construct. That god who said thou shalt not killed also commanded Joshua, and these other examples to go out and kill, leave no survivors. This same god, demands atonement, a blood sacrifice. This god is a terrorist, so why are we shocked that theirs is too.

    Reply
  3. Jeff Straka

    I agree with Wayne. Humans have always constructed the gods in order to explain things beyond their understanding. The trouble began when tribes encountered one another and found they had competing gods, at which point they had to “up their game” to make MY god more powerful than THEIR god. The one-upmanship continued until someone came up with the brilliant idea of a SUPER god that ruled over the LESSER gods and monotheism (and Judaism) was born. Once THAT was “settled”, it became a battle of who “understood” or “heard” this monotheistic god the clearest. Thus Christianity and Islam, and later the thousands of denominations claiming the “right” theology.
    It is crystal clear that “holy scriptures” are 100% human products and yet biblical “scholars” continue to find ways to spin it to squeeze just a few more years of authoritative value out of it. Please. Stop. Before mankind destroys itself.
    https://vimeo.com/68583460

    Reply

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