Take Care in Quoting Scripture to Abuse Victims Lest You do them Harm
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
Refrain from anger and turn from wrath;
do not fret — it leads only to evil.
For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. Psalm 37:7-9
Recently a commenter left the above Scripture on our ACFJ Facebook page under an article concerning a well-known “Christian” who has a history of domestic violence. The commenter claimed she felt “led” to post this Scripture from Psalm 37.
Now, I (JeffC) deleted her comment/Scripture quote. Why? Well, think this through. If we are not careful in our citations of Scripture to someone, say to an abuse victim, we can easily do great harm to them. Consider the verses above. The person who posted them gave no explanation. Just “I feel led” to share them. Translated, “the Lord is directling me to speak these verses to you.”
How might an abuse victim take these verses? I can tell you. She will most probably take them to mean that
- she is guilty of unbelief
- it is a sin for her to be angry about what is happening to her
- she is sinning if she frets about what her abuser is getting away with
- she is at least on the verge of doing “evil”
- and that if she were a really holy Christian, she would be relaxed and “leaving it all” to the Lord.
This is, in other words, a careless use of God’s Word.
How many of you (and I bet we will hear from you in your comments here) have been on the receiving end up such quotes from Scripture by some “helpful” person? How did it make you feel?
Psalm 37 is given to encourage all of God’s people, especially when they are being oppressed by the wicked. It is a promise that one Day the Lord will judge evildoers and that in fact often the wicked who seem to be prospering right now, fall tomorrow. It in no way accuses the righteous of some kind of sinful anger. In fact, it promises them that their honest desire for justice will be satisfied and thus they need not be exasperated or think they have to effect personal vengeance by violence themselves. In other words, this Psalm is given by the Lord to encourage the oppressed, not to criticize and condemn them. It is Him coming alongside a victim and saying, “I validate you. I will give you justice. Yes, you are right to be angry. But the day is coming when your oppressor is going to be dealt perfect justice for his evil against you, so take heart.”
And that, I submit, is a far different message than the one that comes across by a naked quoting of a couple of verses with no explanation. It is the difference between condemnation and justification.
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