Saturday, November 28, 2015

Publicly naming my enemies

Samson mansplaining "retribution" to the revelers in the Temple of Dagon

A portion of Psalm 18:

You gave me your saving shield;
you upheld me, trained me with care.
You gave me freedom for my steps;
my feet have never slipped.

I pursued and overtook my foes,
never turning back till they were slain.
I smote them so they could not rise;
they fell beneath my feet.

You girded me with strength for battle;
you made my enemies fall beneath me,
you made my foes take flight;
those who hated me I destroyed.

They cried, but there was no one to save them;
they cried to the Lord, but in vain.
I crushed them fine as dust before the wind;
trod them down like dirt in the streets.

You saved me from the feuds of the people
and put me at the head of the nations.
People unknown to me served me:
when they heard of me they obeyed me.

Foreign nations came to me cringing:
foreign nations faded away.
They came trembling out of their strongholds

I love the Psalms, but let's be honest: some of them are a little dark and scary. And I don't mean the ones about the Valley of the Shadow of Death and stuff. I mean the ones such as the example above, where the psalmist is praying for the defeat of his enemies, or rejoicing that he and God have just ground said enemies into the dust. Vengeful, no? A little too dark for ordinary dumb old Catholic housewives? No.
Granted, most of us don't have serious issues with "enemies" (unless you think globally--plenty of crazies roaming the planet who would shoot, stab, maim or behead you if they had the chance). For most of us, our enemies are really just a pain in the a** (that neighbour who's always calling the cops on your dog that really doesn't bark excessively; the co-worker who hasn't heard of deordorant; the interfering overbearing mother-in-law; your husband's best "friend" who forgot where his house is). I speak hypothetically of course; I suffer none of these issues. But I do have enemies, and I don't mean the people who can't stand me.

I mean the enemies that made it possible for me to stop feeling vaguely embarassed and uncomfortable about all these "Smite the Ba*tards" Psalms, but instead allowed me to pray them with all my heart. I tallied them up (actually, the Church did), and I'm not afraid to name them. 

From Wikipedia: "An allegorical image depicting the human heart subject to the seven deadly sins, each represented by an animal (clockwise: toad = avarice; snake = envy; lion = wrath; snail  = sloth; pig  = gluttony; goat  = lust; peacock = pride)."

I totally don't get the first one. Have you EVER heard anyone say, "Oh, he's as avaricious as a toad." Hahahaha. What's so avaricious about toads?


  1. Ive spend an interesting 10 minutes on the internet trying to learn why toads=avarice. No real answers. The only guess that made some sense is that maybe the toad's bloated, swollen appearance makes us think of a fat old rich guy. Sort of a Sidney Greenstreet (in Casablanca) persona. Not a few hits mentioned as an aside that Toad of Toad Hall, although in many ways a genial and generous fellow, could be obsessively grasping once he'd set his heart on something. Anyhow, no real answers, but lots of fun speculating.

  2. I think we also get to apply these revenge and conquer psalms to Satan and his demon hordes.

    1. Re demons: yes, absolutely. It's sort of the same thing, really, since the devil is responsible for tempting us to give in to all those Deadly Sins. Re: toads and avarice. Either Sidney Greenstreet, or Jabba the Hut; the latter is the 7 Deadlies personified… or perhaps incarnate, since Jabba's not human and therefore not a person. Oy, I'm opening another can of philosophical worms, aren't I? And thanks for commenting, Daria. It helps keep up the illusion. ;)