"Give ear to my words, O LORD
Consider my meditation
Hearken unto the voice of my cry,
My King, and my God
For unto thee will I pray
My voice shalt thou hear in the morning
O LORD, in the morning will I direct my prayer
Unto thee, and will look up." — Psalm 5, vs. 1–3
Those words comprise a popular Christian chorus that I've probably sung a thousand times or more. I recall seeing my own hands lifted in the air, tears of joy on my cheeks, feelings of ecstatic jubilation filling my soul... Ah yes, the power of God's Holy Word, made alive with the help of some amplification, a few modern musical instruments, a huge overhead screen, and just a touch of emotion-laden message in tongues &mdash it all made for a powerful drug.
All in all, it was a tremendously good way to put people in the mood for whatever the pastor might deem important to say.
But why did we stop there? Why didn’t we sing the entire psalm?
Why not add more from Psalm 5, like:
"Thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing (lies). Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies. For there is no faithfulness in their (mine enemies') mouth; their (mine enemies') inward part is very wickedness; their (mine enemies') throat is an open sepulcher. Destroy thou them (mine enemies) O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions."
Accusations of "you are taking the scripture out of context," and "you are a hater" are constantly lobbed at those who criticize Christianity. So, if quoting something out of context is bad and hatred to be avoided, why isn't it wrong to completely ignore portions of the Bible?
What about singing the Imprecatory Psalms? Here's a nice segment from Psalm 69:22–28:
"May the table set before them become a snare; may it become retribution and a trap. May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever. Pour out your wrath on them; let your fierce anger overtake them. May their place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in their tents. For they persecute those you wound and talk about the pain of those you hurt. Charge them with crime upon crime; do not let them share in your salvation. May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous."
That doesn't seem to fit too well with "Love your enemies," does it?
How about this little sentiment from Psalm 109:8–15?
"May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership. May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes. May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor. May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children. May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation. May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD; may the sin of his mother never be blotted out. May their sins always remain before the LORD, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth."
Remember, this is the Holy Word of God! Sheesh, whoever authored those words, sure was a hater! Imagine that song being used to open the service!
But let's jump back to "out of context." Here's a great verse that is misused on a continual basis:
"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me." — Revelation 3:20
I was taught by the Billy Graham organization to memorize that verse and use it when witnessing to unbelievers. But verse 19 says, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." And verse 21 says, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."
In context, that verse is obviously directed to believers. That verse has no application to non-believers. Using that verse when witnessing to unbelievers is using the verse completely out of context. But nary a Christian bats an eye at doing it!
I'm convinced that Christians do not know or understand their Bibles. They think they know the Bible, but all they really know is dogma that is being taught from the popular pulpit. They learn the 23rd Psalm, but are oblivious to the psalms that advocate hate. They memorize favorite verses, but are blind to the context surrounding those verses.
Christians aren't sheep. They are ignorant cherry pickers.