Suffering and Vengeance in the Psalms

How to Cite

van Rooy, H. (2020). Suffering and Vengeance in the Psalms. Old Testament Essays, 33(3), 621 - 633. Retrieved from


In the Psalms, the sufferer frequently complains about the suffering he had to endure and asks for deliverance. In some instances, the plea for deliverance includes a cry for vengeance. This contribution examines the issue of suffering and vengeance in the Psalter, giving attention to suffering in the hand of enemies, the terms used, individual and collective suffering, and vengeance. Animosity is a central theme in the Psalter, and through laments, the poet asks for justice. For suffering, the terms used are the nounעֳנִיand the related verb III ענה. For vengeance, the verbs נקם, גמל and שׁלם, as well as related nouns, are used. Psalms 13, 31, 37, 91 and 94 are analysed in relation to individual suffering and vengeance and Pss 58, 79, 137 and 149 in relation to collective suffering and vengeance. Vengeance does feature in the Psalms, but very seldom is vengeance asked for as such.


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