At a recent Leadership Team meeting we shared what we were each doing in our personal Bible reading. One of our number said they were in the Psalms and were challenged about how to approach what are called the imprecatory Psalms - you know, the ones that demand that God reduces all our enemies to dust and dashes the heads of their babies against the rocks, those ones.
John Piper's sermon on Psalm 69 is really helpful as he goes beyond the rather lame excuses/reasons that are often put forward for these Psalms ("the Old Testament was the time before God became a Christian so he liked those kinds of prayers." etc)...
Satisfaction in Justice?
When you are watching a film, and great evil and injustice are portrayed, and you bristle with anger at what they seem to get away with, and some noble, humble, sacrificial person risks his life, and captures the villains and brings them to justice, is it good to feel a deep satisfaction that justice was done?
And in your own real life, how should you feel about those who have wronged you—perhaps terribly wronged you? How should you feel, and how should you think? And what should you do?
Psalms That Curse
There are a group of psalms that are called imprecatory psalms because they include imprecations, that is curses, judgments against God’s enemies. These psalms are usually considered problems for Christians because Jesus taught us, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27–28). And Jesus prayed for his enemies on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). So it sounds like these psalms are doing the opposite of what Jesus said and did.
Let’s take Psalm 69 as one of the most extended imprecatory psalms and try to understand it and how it should shape how we think and feel with God.
Here are the links if you want to have a read, a listen or a watch:
Pour Out Your Indignation Upon ThemPsalms: Thinking and Feeling with God, Part 5
Listen Watch Download Podcast
Excerpts: Listen Watch