“He makes wars cease to the end of the earth” (Psalm 46:9)

“He makes wars cease to the end of the earth” (Psalm 46:9) January 8, 2015
David Ohmer, "Swords Into Plowshares," Flickr C.C.
David Ohmer, “Swords Into Plowshares,” Flickr C.C.

Today’s psalm from the Presbyterian daily lectionary was Psalm 46. A couple of lines in this psalm are very popular, like verse 1: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble,” or verse 10: “Be still and know that I am God.” But I had never really noticed verse 9 before: “He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.” It seems like a fitting verse to contemplate in the wake of the horrific terror attack in Paris as well as the mostly unreported terrorist bombing of the Colorado Springs NAACP office.

I’ve been really disturbed by the number of people on the Internet who seem to relish the terror attack as an opportunity to get in their talking points against Islam. There’s so much ink being spilled in the debate about whether Islam is “to blame” for this terrorism. What do you mean they’re not true Muslims? It’s in the Koran; you’re supposed to kill the infidel. Whenever I see people talking this way, I have to ask what their goal is. Do you want to put them all in prison? Or concentration camps? Do you want to justify terrorism against Muslims because they’re all just terrorists anyway? How many millions of Europeans had to ask whether Judaism inherently produced sleazy money-grubbing merchants before they had created a sufficiently anti-Semitic ground for a Holocaust to happen?

I realize that the Muslim-bashers see themselves as hating political correctness more than they hate actual Muslims. They love ridiculing “liberals” for supposedly “defending” Islam because “those Muslims hate you liberals more than anybody.” I’m not a liberal so I can’t speak for liberals. But I will say that I’m not coming from a place of political correctness when I oppose Muslim-bashing. I believe that living out Jesus’ command to love our enemies means that Christians must speak out against any discourse that makes it easier to justify torture and terrorism against a whole race or religion of people. It doesn’t matter what Islam teaches. It doesn’t matter how many verses Islamophobes find in the Koran that appear to support violence. The reason I cannot engage in Islamophobia as a Christian has nothing to do with what is true or false about Islam. It has to do with whether or not I’m contributing to an environment in which violence against Muslims becomes socially acceptable.

I don’t know if Allah is the same as the God that I worship. What I do know is that my God is the God “makes wars cease to the end of the earth.” He isn’t just breaking physical bows and spears. He is stomping out every excuse we give ourselves for hating and dehumanizing other people. Anytime we promote violence and dehumanization, we are worshiping Satan rather than God, whether you call yourself Christian or Muslim or otherwise. In Hebrew, Satan means “the instigator.” It’s the word we use for the one in our world who’s always trying to start fights and make people hate and fear each other.

Christians who think it’s some sort of exhibition of their righteousness to sharpen rhetorical spears and arrows against other religions and races of people are taking a stance that is diametrically opposed to what Psalm 46:9 says that God is doing in the world. It’s the very next verse where God says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Taken by itself, this verse is comprised of the soft, reassuring words that Steven Curtis Chapman made into a song. But when we read this verse in context, “Be still!” is something that God is shouting at all the agitators and scoffers and lovers of controversy who are sowing the seeds of violence in our world. Another way of saying this is “Shut up!”

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  • Uzoozy

    Kill those who are not Christian or Jewish:

    You must kill those who worship another god. Exodus 22:20

    Kill any friends or family that worship a god that is different than your own. Deuteronomy 13:6-10

    Kill all the inhabitants of any city where you find people that worship differently than you. Deuteronomy 13:12-16

    Kill everyone who has religious views that are different than your own. Deuteronomy 17:2-7

    Kill anyone who refuses to listen to a priest. Deuteronomy 17:12-13

    Kill any false prophets. Deuteronomy 18:20

    Any city that doesn’t receive the followers of Jesus will be destroyed in a manner even more savage than that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Mark 6:11

    Jude reminds us that God destroys those who don’t believe in him. Jude 5

    • I’m trying to figure out if you want to kill people or you’re trying to say that the Bible is evil and sociopathic.

      • Uzoozy

        Unlike you I do not want to kill people, your bible if full of teacings about killing

        Kill those who are not Christian or Jewish:

        You must kill those who worship another god. Exodus 22:20

        Kill any friends or family that worship a god that is different than your own. Deuteronomy 13:6-10

        Kill all the inhabitants of any city where you find people that worship differently than you. Deuteronomy 13:12-16

        Kill everyone who has religious views that are different than your own. Deuteronomy 17:2-7

        Kill anyone who refuses to listen to a priest. Deuteronomy 17:12-13

        Kill any false prophets. Deuteronomy 18:20

        Any city that doesn’t receive the followers of Jesus will be destroyed in a manner even more savage than that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Mark 6:11

        Jude reminds us that God destroys those who don’t believe in him. Jude 5

        Ignorance is bliss. Christians should not practice free inquiry nor socialize with non Christians:

        Don’t associate with non-Christians. Don’t receive them into your house or even exchange greeting with them. 2 John 1:10

        Shun those who disagree with your religious views. Romans 16:17

        Paul, knowing that their faith would crumble if subjected to free and critical inquiry, tells his followers to avoid philosophy. Colossians 2:8

        Judge other religions for not following Christ:

        Whoever denies “that Jesus is the Christ” is a liar and an anti-Christ. 1 John 2:22

        Christians are “of God;” everyone else is wicked. 1 John 5:19

        The non-Christian is “a deceiver and an anti-Christ” 2 John 1:7

        Anyone who doesn’t share Paul’s beliefs has “an evil heart.” Hebrews 3:12

        False Jews are members of “the synagogue of Satan.” Revelations 2:9, 3:9

        Here are my two personal favorites:

        Everyone will have to worship Jesus — whether they want to or not. Philippians 2:10

        A Christian can not be accused of any wrongdoing. Romans 8:33

        • Random Former Methodist Reader

          Conveniently pulling verses out of context, of course…

          • Uzoozy

            Those verses are from the bible. So you do not believe in your book.
            Way to go buddy

          • Random Former Methodist Reader

            Not what I said, but whatever.

      • He’s just disproving your selectively pacifist interpretation of the Bible.

        • Uzoozy

          There is nothing to interpret, its in your bible.
          I intend no harm just show the bigotry in peoples views.
          Life is a two way street.

  • L.W. Dicker

    And then Jesus came upon his disciples and said, “Brethren, I’ve heard it said among you that I am the Son of God and was sent to die for your sins. Allow me to asketh, who among you is the deranged lunatic that came up with that Neanderthal bullshit!!??

    Blood sacrifice!!!?? Are you out of your goddamned minds with that Stone Age fuckery!!!???

    Brethren, listen closely as I tell you something of great importance. I would sooner lick the sweat off of Judas’ ass crack than be a part of your dying for sins horse shit!!!!!!!!!”

    —Jesus Christ, A Memoir