Psalms

GODíS AVENGER

~ Michael, The Imprecatory Angel ~

Imprecations: Holy Fire by Prof. John M. Frame

Imprecations, prayers calling down Godís wrath upon the wicked, are found in the New Testament as well as the Old, on the lips of Christ and the apostles as well as the Psalmists (see Matt. 23:13ff.; Gal. 1:8ff.; Rev. 6:10; 18:20).

What about the ďhatredĒ expressed in the imprecatory Psalms (e.g., 139:21ff.)? How is this compatible with Jesusí command to love, not hate, our enemies? Again, as we have distinguished between personal and divine vengeance, I think we must distinguish between two kinds of hatred. Love and hate in Scripture are not so much emotions as patterns of behavior. To love is to seek anotherís ultimate benefit; to hate is to seek his destruction. When we pray for divine vengeance, granting all the above qualifications on that prayer, we are seeking the destruction of an enemy of God. We are ďhatingĒ that person. But in our individual relationships with that person, in which vengeance is excluded, we are to love, to seek what is best for our enemy. So, Scripture similarly distinguishes between good and bad anger: the quickly aroused, difficult to extinguish, murderous anger of personal vengeance (Matt. 5:22), and the slowly aroused, easily extinguished, righteous anger of Godís servants defending His honor (Eph. 4:26), which is like the anger of God itself. With these qualifications, hatred and love are not contrary to one another in every respect. It is possible to have a godly hatred and a godly love toward the same person, paradoxical as that seems.

We today may be called to cry for divine justice: against abortionists and abortion advocates, against homosexual militants who try to destroy the churchís freedom to proclaim Godís word, against the remaining anti-Christian dictators of the world. We crave great historical signs of Godís displeasure with injustice. That desire is quite legitimate. And if God pleases instead to rebuke these movements by sending revival and converting the hearts of His enemies, our desire for divine judgment will be completely fulfilled. But in our cry for divine justice, the imprecatory Psalms will rightly guide our prayers.

Vengeance Is Mine, I Will Repay

Imprecatory Prayer by Jay Horsley

So the situation in which to offer a righteous imprecatory prayer is 1) when it is a cause that God will support, 2) you are suffering a terrible harm and 3) other means of relief are not available. These are not simply prayers of vengeance, but prayers of dependence on God as the only hope of help. Keeping these things in mind, let us examine the character of the man who can offer such a prayer righteously.

While some would object that it is not patience at all to pray to God for the destruction of their enemies, that idea is simply wrong. If destruction is truly warranted and is the will of God, to pray for it is neither impatient nor wrong. Taking individual vengeance is both wrong and impatient. Rom. 12:19 "Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord." Not taking one's own vengeance, but waiting on God to use His tools (natural means, governments, other evil men's predilection for evil, etc.) to bring His vengeance is exactly what patience is.

Also, anyone who would plead for God to relieve him from the evil of his enemies must truly make sure that his enemy can not rightly ask for the same relief because of the pleader's action. The righteous imprecatory prayer is a tool for the innocent only.

Finally, the one who would offer the imprecatory prayer needs to do so not with a vengeful and hateful heart, but rejoicing in the Lord. This type of prayer is not simply from a desire to harm others, but to have the Lord help stop their evil. When this happens, the joy that we have in the Lord is greatly refreshed.

When any prayer is answered we have joy, but when the answer stops the attacks of the enemy our praise should be unceasing, or as David said, "praise all day long."

We hope that we never need to pray for the Lord to punish evildoers who are harming us, but sometimes that is the only way to find relief. Righteous imprecatory prayer is the last hope of the patient, innocent, faithful saint.

    How Should The Imprecatory Psalms Be Understood?

There are over 30 Psalms that contain a clear imprecation.[9] They are typically broken up into three major categories. They are as follows: societal enemies, national enemies, personal enemies. Because of the harsh language, many have seen the Psalms as barbaric, vindictive, and out of place with the teachings of Jesus.[10] However, this idea must be rejected. When these prayers are examined in light of the context, these statements could not be further from the truth. First, the context is grounded in a promise by God (Gen. 12:2-3). Second, the prayers of the saints are never asking to take vengeance for their own sake, rather, they are asking God to do what is just according to His promise (Psalm 6:4b; 7:6; 28:4; 31:15; 40:13; 70:5; 109:120). Third, these prayers are always a type or picture of the innocent pleading against the guilty to the judge (7:3-6; 9:12b; 28:4-5; 31:6). Fourth, these prayers represent the needy who have nothing and no one to defend them but God (Psalm 10:10; 69:1-4; 137). Fifth, it is a cry for justice to a just God (Psalm 1:6; 10:5; 17:9-13; 35:23-24). Sixth, they are a cry for God to defend His name and glory (Psalm 5:11; 6:4; 7:11; 10:3; 28:5; 31:6; 35:9; 58:11). Seventh, the prayers do not see themselves as faultless, but rather those who turn to the LORD (Psalm 5:7-8b; 6:1-4; 10:12-13; 31:6-10).

by Stephen Willcox

   May We Pray the Imprecatory Psalms?

To pray the imprecations of the Psalms is to surrender all rights for vengeance to God. It means being prepared to suffer and to endure without personal revenge or hatred as Christ did. It involves being gentle and loving even when I am reviled and persecuted. It encompasses acknowledging in all my ways that Godís cause is more important than I am.

May We Pray The Imprecatory Psalms

Psalm 139
13 For you created my inmost being;
  you knit me together in my motherís womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
  your works are wonderful,
  I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
  when I was made in the secret place,
  when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
 16Your eyes saw my unformed body;
  all the days ordained for me were written in your book
  before one of them came to be
 
 
Most are very familiar with lines 14 through 16 of Psalm 139Öfar fewer pray the imprecation contained on line 19Ö If only you, God, would slay the wicked! Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
 
The Imprecatory Psalms form a cornerstone of my novel. Their message of total dependence upon God is not something often heard these days.

 
I encourage everyone to read Psalms 5, 6, 11, 12, 35, 37, 40, 52, 54, 55, 56, 58, 69, 79, 83, 109, 137, 139, and 143 to experience Davidís absolute trust in God.
by James E. Adams

Blessings, Dan Gura

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