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Psalm 140: Deliver me, O Lord, from evildoers...Let not those who surround me lift up their heads; let the evil of their lips overwhelm them. Let hot burning coals fall upon them; let them be cast into the mire..."
A favorite book, Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, includes a section describing “Animals in symbolism.” That part tells, for example, that camels signify “sobriety and dignified obedience” and that horses signify “vitality, velocity, and beauty.” I wonder what the animals would say to having human characteristics projected onto them.
I often wonder, too, how God feels when we assume that human characteristics can be equated with divine ones. We project human attributes onto God, a natural instinct which is generally harmless. We do invite trouble and misunderstanding of our God, though, when we project our prejudices and agendas onto God. One such self-serving dimension of spirituality appears in several psalms, as when Psalm 140 asks God to “let hot burning coals fall upon [evildoers]; let them be cast into the mire.”
The God of Jesus Christ urges us to love enemies, to forgive them, as God loves and forgives each of us. God is not our enforcer; God is the loving force who shapes us into loving human beings.
We best imitate Jesus Christ when we invite God to project divine characteristics onto us, rather than assuming God shares our anger.
Psalm 142; 2 Samuel 19:24-43; Acts 24:24-25:12; Mark 12:35-44
Copyright 2019 by Carol Mead. For noncommercial use and sharing only. For more information on this ministry, and on a free subscription to these meditations, please go to the website (

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