The Seinfeld series finale was considered by many a huge disappointment, especially considering the show ended at the peak of its popularity, unlike most sitcoms that fizzle out and no one notices. From an artistic standpoint, I think the show finished the way it had always been. Nothing in that final season led to a culmination we could anticipate. That would imply the writers were concerned with plot, something the “show about nothing” rarely emphasized.
The final episode punctuated the four friends’ slight sociopathy, their tendency to focus on themselves without regard for social norms and consideration—as in George’s not understanding why he can’t return a book he’d taken into a bathroom stall or his insistence on peeing in a locker room shower.
In the final show, the four are in a small New England town where they witness and even jeer a man getting carjacked. But they’re arrested for failing to come to the man’s aide, having broken some sort of Good Samaritan law. All sorts of character witnesses are brought in to testify against them, and there are plenty—people whom the four had wronged in the previous nine seasons. They’re each found guilty and are sentenced to a year in a state prison. The last scene shows Jerry in an orange jumpsuit struggling with his comedy routine before fellow prisoners.
What has been a beautiful song of lament to this point, Psalm 137 takes a drastic turn. The final stanzas are violent and fraught with vengeful hatred.
Remember, O LORD, against the Edomites the day of Jerusalem, how they said, “Lay it bare, lay it bare, down to its foundations!” —Psalm 137:7 ESV
Who are these Edomites?
Edom was Israel’s geographical neighbor and the descendents of Esau, the twin brother of one of the fathers of Israel, Jacob. Edom and Israel are referred to as brothers in the prophetic books of Obadiah and Amos. At the time of Israel’s exodus from Egypt, the Edomites refused to allow Israel to pass through their land and ever afterwards maintained an attitude of hostility. Though eventually conquered by Israel, they would later regain their independence.
(An interesting note: Edom has always been intent on destroying God’s people and his plan for salvation. Herod the Great was an Edomite who murdered all two-year-old Hebrew boys in an effort to kill the Messiah.)
These Edomites basically colluded with Jerusalem’s enemies to bring about her destruction. Though they didn’t wield the sword against Jerusalem, the Edomites stood by and allowed it to happen—boasting, even rejoicing in Israel’s downfall and capture.
Has this ever happened to you? Someone you thought should have come to your defense but didn’t, and even more, took pleasure in your defeat. David did.
12 For it is not an enemy who taunts me—then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—then I could hide from him. 13 But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. —Psalm 55:12-13 ESV
If you read the rest of David’s song, you’ll find that he, like the Psalm 137 songwriter, asks God for justice, that God would cast his enemies “down into the pit of destruction.” But David ends his song proclaiming his trust in God and encouraging others to “cast your burden on the Lord” because God “will sustain you.”
If someone close to you has betrayed you, turn them over to God. You might ask God to “lay them bare,” and that’s okay. He wants all of you, all that you’re feeling. You don’t have to clean up your heart for him. Ask God for his Spirit’s power to enable you to forgive and move beyond the hurt. In the process he may point out to you those whom you have betrayed.
I’ll close this series next week with lex talionis, the law of retaliation, how it fits (or doesn’t) with Jesus’ words to “love your enemies.”
Has someone close to you ever betrayed you? How did you feel? How did you respond?