IMPRECATORY PSALMS or PRAYER STRATEGIES (PDF of Imprecatory Psalms only)
The book of Psalms is rich with poetry, praise, joy, sorrow, and more. It was written by several authors, including King David. There are seven major types of psalms found in this book: lament psalms, thanksgiving psalms, enthronement psalms, pilgrimage psalms, royal psalms, wisdom psalms, and imprecatory psalms.
What is the significance of the imprecatory psalms? It is important to note that these psalms were not written out of vindictiveness or a need for personal vengeance. Instead, they are prayers that keep God’s justice, sovereignty, and protection in mind. Imprecatory psalms is a cry for divine vengeance, an appeal to God to pour out his wrath on the psalmist’s enemies.
While Jesus Himself quoted some imprecatory psalms (John 2:17; 15:25), He also instructed us to love our enemies and pray for them (Matthew 5:44–48; Luke 6:27–38). The New Testament makes it clear that our enemy is spiritual, not physical (Ephesians 6:12). It is not sinful to pray the imprecatory psalms against our spiritual enemies, but we should also pray with compassion and love and even thanksgiving for people who are under the devil’s influence (1 Timothy 2:1). We should desire their salvation. After all, God “is patient . . . not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). Above all things, we should seek the will of God in everything we do and, when we are wronged, leave the ultimate outcome to the Lord (Romans 12:19).
We are to never curse our enemies. We curse God’s enemies. And that was true in the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament. God’s people in the Old Testament were not encouraged just randomly to curse people. The imprecations of the Psalter are directed against the enemies of God and His purposes, and of His people. When we feel we are under attack spiritually, and even physically sometimes, and have not done things we have been accused of, and have done all we know to do in the flesh, then it might be time to call upon God’s vengeance for us.
The bottom line is that the imprecatory psalms communicate a deep yearning for justice, written from the point of view of those who had been mightily oppressed. God’s people have the promise of divine vengeance: “Will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly” (Luke 18:7–8; cf. Revelation 19:2).
We often pray for persons who are attacking us both by gossip, or by their behavior towards us, to be exposed so others can see their evil deeds. We pray the Word of God and we leave it up to God to do the rest.
IMPRECATORY PSALMS or PRAYER STRATEGIES
(29) Let mine adversaries be clothed with shame, and let them cover themselves with their own confusion, as with a mantle.
(78) Let the proud be ashamed; for they dealt perversely with me without a cause: but I will meditate in thy precepts.
(17) Let me not be ashamed, O LORD; for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave.
(4) Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt.
(26) Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonor that magnify themselves against me.
(14) Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil.
(17) Let them be confounded and troubled forever; yea, let them be put to shame, and perish:
(6) Then shall I not be ashamed, when I have respect unto all thy commandments.
(20) O keep my soul, and deliver me: let me not be ashamed; for I put my trust in thee.
(23) And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the LORD: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.
Article prepared by Donna Carrico
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