Coals of conscience?
I found another verse in the Psalms that has an interesting parallel in the New Testament. Psalms 11:6 says,
“Upon the wicked He will rain coals; Fire and brimstone and a burning wind shall be the portion of their cup.”
Notice the similarity between this verse and Romans 12:20 which says,
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink;For in doing so ;you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
The New Testament context is obvious. Paul quotes from Proverbs 25:21-22 to make the point that Christians are not to repay evil for evil, but to leave vengeance up to God. In agreement with the teaching of Jesus to love your enemies, both Paul and Solomon believed that kindness to an enemy afflicts the conscience of the enemy (and in some cases, will cause the enemy to repent). The coals of fire, therefore are coals of conscience.
What is striking about these three passages is the use of fire and coals. In the verse in Psalms, the words fire and brimstone are used. Could it be possible that these three verses are talking about the same thing? Namely that the coals and the fire and the brimstone, terms often used to describe the punishment of the wicked, primarily refer to the torment of a guilty conscience? If so, then how does this relate to a literal interpretation of the Bible?
Questions! Questions! Questions!