“The Works of my Hands” – Thoughts on the Death of Osama Bin Laden

I have watched the news, commentaries, and celebrations about the death of Osama Bin Laden. I am not sure what to think or feel. Relief? Justice? Celebration? American pride? Sadness? I keep coming back to the Exodus story.

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my might, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name. “Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he cast into the sea; his picked officers were sunk in the Red Sea. The floods covered them; they went down into the depths like a stone. (Exodus 15:1-5)

Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. And Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.” (Exodus 15:20-21)

There is a story about this in the Talmud (Talmud Tractate Megillah 10b). The angels above began to sing and dance as well. God silences their celebration saying, “The works of my hands are drowning in the sea and you want to sing praises?”

Life is sacred. Christian or Muslim, guilty or innocent, we are all the works of God’s hands. An enemy is dead. It needed to happen. But this is not a time for singing, dancing, or celebration. It is a time for reflection. How did we get to this point? How and when will we learn to live with one another? Will we ever? It is a time for confession of things done and left undone, that we have not loved our neighbor as ourselves. It is a time for prayer for all who have died, for peace, and for our enemies.

O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love
our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth:
deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in
your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Book of Common Prayer)


  1. Dear Michael,
    thank you for those thoughts and your wisdom. I have SO experienced what you describe! I expressed on FB that I hope or pray that we will find a way to talk about Bin Laden’s death in some way besides “revenge”.


  2. This reflection, these remarks, these are sensible and Godly. To quote your reference to the Book of Common Prayer, “O God, the Father of all, whose Son commanded us to love our enemies: Lead them and us from prejudice to truth: deliver them and us from hatred, cruelty, and revenge; and in your good time enable us all to stand reconciled before you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. ”

    It is my thinking, perhaps my distorted thinking, that the most amazing gift of all God’s gifts would be the one where we are able to overcome hatred and spite and even to be able to love those who commit the most heinous of all crimes. Is that a gift?

    This is, indeed, a time for reflection and not celebration. To be redundant, it is a time to hope to be delivered from “hatred, cruelty, and revenge.”


    1. Roberta, you are right. To overcome hated, spite, and love one another would be an amazing gift that we give God, one another, and ourselves.



  3. Thanks for being the voice of sanity and reflection Mike. I am a South African so a little removed from the drives that move the partisans and the prayerful.
    I am a human being though who resonates with your sensitivity.
    Bless you


    1. Peter, I follow your blog and appreciate the depth and sensitivity from which you write. Thank you for your comment and encouraging words.



  4. This is a grand day of great gratitude. I am glad to be here, present, on this earth at this time of change, and challenge; of choice, and above all, of charity (LOVE). My heart is joined with all here on this site.


  5. First time to see your blog, and I will most certainly be back. I have been deeply troubled by the celebrations over UBL’s death and have wondered if they are primarily generational—the “bad guy” of their childhood was finally anhilated, as if this whole thing were nothing more than a video game of sorts (suggested my wise, twelve-year old nephew). I am sad that our president and others called it a great day for America—yes, perhaps it needed to be done, but I will never call it a great day. My heart cannot call killing great, on any level, because when I do then I become a killer. Interesting to note that not one family of a 9/11 victim interviewed about UBL’s death has cheered—perhaps they understand things the best—that forgiveness and justice must be held in delecate balance.

    To me, it was a sad day—sad because such measures “had to” be taken, and sad because the celebrations in our streets show that, as a nation, we have maybe grown numb, and maybe lost some decorum and respect for true peace and freedom. Peace and Freedom are worth cheering for, but I cannot see how ridding the world of UBL begins peace and freedom. But I am older than the cheering generation. I see things differently.

    As is often the case with hatred, I fear we have become enslaved by it. Our cheers and chants of victory look too much like the ones we have watched on TV for years, the ones coming from those we “hate”. God save us–from our enemies, and from ourselves.


  6. Thanks for these good thoughts and the above comments. See the articles on this subject from Taki’s Magazine posted on my Blog, esp. “Kill or Be Killed” about the illegal and immoral assassination of political leaders. Was “justice” really done? Why no public trial? And why was body thrown into the Sea?


  7. …sometime far into the future..if The Lord should so tarry so long ..the world will look back on this dark period in history with dismay.. having seen the extent of the fraud and deception that has been perpetrated on americans enmasse by the powers within government/media…God help us all..


  8. I appreciate that you found part of your answer in the rabbis’ midrash on the angels’ singing. I thought of this midrash too, when Saddam Hussein’s two dead sons’ bodies were proudly displayed to the world. I thought it was barbaric. On the other hand, I saw “Zero Dark Thirty” yesterday (the film about the death of bin Laden). No one in the audience cheered at the moment he’s killed. I think that the writers and director worked hard to avoid creating a triumphant mood. In the end, even the protagonist cries. I thought of the midrash again.


    1. That midrash is an important teaching. I remember a seminary teacher saying that there is no “just war.” It may be necessary and if it is then we should go to war all the while confessing our sin. There should be no triumphalism in the death a human being created in the image and likeness of God.

      God’s peace be with you,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: