Psalm: Prayers to Curse Enemies?

As you know I have been going through the Psalms, and to be quite frank there are some tough passages sometimes. We  mostly think of King David with what is called imprecatory prayer. This is a prayer to invoke judgment, calamity, or curses upon an enemy. I did a little searching trying to understand how we deal with these passages. My immediate thought was these verses are proving that God hates evil. God is holy. God is just. God is righteous. God is sovereign.  God is in control. Evil will not win. These verses can be viewed as prophetic as well to what was to come.

While I do think its ok to pray for God’s judgment such as in the case of ISIS and the like, imprecatory prayers should be taken with caution.  It’s ok to ask God to bring justice.  There is a fine line though between asking God to have his way and will and quite another when we are praying from a feeling of revenge and elevating ourselves above God. Prayers of asking God to pour out his wrath on evil is a prayer not against a certain person, but on the spiritual enemy, and this is an appropriate prayer.When we are dealing with our personal enemies, Jesus was quite clear on how we should deal with them,  He said to love our enemies and we should pray for them. This, I know is not easy, and we can ask for God to give us the strength and help we need.

One thing for sure David is very raw and honest about his enemies. He speaks the truth about them and the evil they are doing and how it is affecting David emotionally and mentally. I think we should be real and honest with God. He understands.  We can express our emotional anguish and our mental state. It’s ok to express what we are feeling to God, and then ask for his help in being Christ like, and ultimately pray for his will to be done.

Jesus shows us how we are to act towards our enemies. This doesn’t mean we don’t have feelings of hate, hate for evil, and injustice. It is not flesh and blood that we are in battle with, and when we recognize that our little feelings of revenge towards our enemies are directed in the wrong place, we can then shift our focus to elevating God and submitting to his will and trusting that He has it all under control and HE DOES! God knows exactly what he is doing!

Blessings to you all!  Let not your heart be troubled!

12 Replies to “Psalm: Prayers to Curse Enemies?”

  1. Johanna, Jesus told us to love our enemies and do good to those that persecute us. That’s a tough word to swallow at times,at least it has been for me. I think revenge or the urge to even the score is a natural reaction when we’ve been wronged,and it is certainly a challenge to keep the words of Jesus near to our hearts in those times.
    Yet as you say, God will strengthen us and support us as we seek His will to deal with the feelings we have. Maintaining our integrity when we’ve been wronged is absolutely essential if we’re to be victorious,and I think your post explains it very well!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree completely Ron. Yes it is so hard to act contrary our natural reaction, only by the strength and grace of God. Thank you so much for your commentary for taking the time to read. Blessings!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved this post. I’ve processed the curses David put on his enemies the same way you do here: on Satan, vis-a-vis Ephesians 6:12. Kinda in the same stream of thought that I think a lot of things like hygrnic regulations in the law are very symbolic for us today (eg mold regulations then vs something that is spuritually dirty for us, maybe due to bad emotional connections, today).

    So here’s the wrench in the machine though that I literally just thought of as I was typing this comment, look at Jude 1:8-10, ” In the very same way, on the strength of their dreams these ungodly people pollute their own bodies, reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings. 9 But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”[d] 10 Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct—as irrational animals do—will destroy them.”

    So how do we reconcile this with David’s curses…I’m not sure I have an answer off the bat here. Love to hear your thoughts!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh man Joel! You got my brain working. I read your comment as I am getting ready for dream land and I was like woah! Haha! Anyway, I’m gonna come back to a response when I can digest and respond in a semi educated way. 😜
      You gave some good food for thought. I’ll be back. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha! Well I very much look forward to reading your answer. Especially because I think you “get it” when it comes to understanding some of the deeper, underlying processes God is running in thr world. I have a theory too, but I really want to read yours first! I’ll be waiting! 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ok I’m rested! 😃 here goes on my answer….

        Old Testament – before the sacrifice and final atonement of Jesus – we see these types of prayers. I believe these are prophetic in nature. God allowed this as showing that God cannot tolerate sin. God shows us throughout the Old Testament what kind of judgment will come to the enemies of God. Jesus had not come yet so the wrath of God had not been satisfied.
        I believe these imprecatory prayers were God speaking through these writers.
        Also we have the oracles of weal and woe – there are curses and blessings. You are blessed if you are a friend of God…you are cursed if you are an enemy of God. This is Gods absolute truth.
        Flash Forward- New Testament – Writers are still inspired by God and the canon is still being written. Jesus and all the apostles were preaching this new gospel, but they would continue to quote the Old Testament to show the fulfillment and completion in scripture. They show that we aren’t contradicting or throwing out the OT but completing the narrative. The apostles and Jesus still use the oracle of woe to speak of the truth. So Jesus the final sacrifice – became cursed, “cursed is anyone who hangs on a tree.” The final atonement – we now know that the wrath of God has been satisfied now our mission is to preach the good news and pray for people to turn from their ways and trust Jesus. And it’s ok to express the woes of what will come if they choose to remain an enemy of God. This isn’t wishing calamity but reinforcing a truth that God already spoke.

        We do not need or should pray for calamity on any one person ( and I don’t think I made it clear up there) I think we can pray as in the case of ISIS for God to bring his justice and bring down that evil. We should pray for the individuals to see their wicked ways and turn from them.

        In Jude it was speaking of false teachers, I think it shows that God is the one who rebukes who does the decision making even about our spiritual enemies. We can’t get on a high horse ( in the case of false teachers) and start thinking we have any power except what power the Holy Spirit gives us.
        Our power is not of our own. Our righteousness is not our own. The angel said, “the Lord rebuke you.” Not I rebuke you. We don’t do the rebuking, God does. We don’t do the condemning or the punishing or the blessing. So I suppose the scripture puts us in our rightful places reminding us that we are not our own. He does speak in same scripture “woe to them.” And goes on to show 11-13 the curse that is upon them for being enemies with God.
        I think David in the Psalm was speaking prophetically – and was speaking directly from the mouth of God when he was praying.
        Now we can’t assume the same for our imprecatory prayers, As there is no more God inspired scripture being added.That dispensation is over.
        We now pray take the log out of our own eye first and then pray for the good of others. Pray that God will bring his justice upon evil so that He be lifted high.
        Whew……sorry that was long winded. Haha! Now I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. 😃

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Wow, that was impressive. I think I actually like your way better!! I especially like how you weaved in God’s curses through people like David and them came full circle to the cross, Jesus being cursed on the cross, and the power to fight Satan coming through God alone. Love it. Really well laid out here. I think we get to the same answer here, but we just take different paths to get there.

        So my perspective…Jude 1:8-9 is tough. In Ephesians 6 we are warriors, suiting up to go into cosmic battle with the demonic powers in the world. Jude 1 is referring, as you mentioned, to people who are sinners (imposters in the church) and then uses Michael disputing with Satan as the extreme example in the argument against these imposters’ abusive words toward celestial beings. I think if we parse out what these imposters were saying we get more of a clear picture. I think it’s not too much of a leap that they were heaping abuse on these beings in an arrogant manner, maybe in their own name, maybe in a different name, but I think they definitely weren’t relying upon God for their strength. God is ultimate in his power and has allowed Satan to be the bad guy in his story. He controls him. I think God has also setup our world such that unless we are truly in Christ and let him flow through us, demons can try to attack us, beat us, hurt us. This happened in Acts 19:13-17:

         Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

        17 When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor.

        I admit, I don’t understand the spiritual dynamics at play with the angels here. I typically think of them in star wars-esq fashion, going jedi knight on Satan. But that’s not how it plays out exactly. I don’t think we really see how that works exactly, we get some glimpses in Rev 12 and Daniel 10, but we do know how it works for us in Ephesians 6. The takeaway: I think Jude is highlighting that even Michael can’t really do much against Satan without God’s power…or better, Michael refers to God’s power instead of his own in battle against Satan. Which is exactly as we are instructed to do, Ephesians 6:10,
         Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. The context in Jude is for people trusting in their own strength, not God’s.

        OK so bringing this back around…I do think David’s curses are applicable to spiritual warfare now. In context, David is always in God’s power asking for revenge. He’s not in general saying, I will go do these things to my enemies, instead in general he’s asking God to destroy his enemies. Eg, psalm 109:1, 6-10,26-29,

         Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy;
            let an accuser stand at his right hand.
        7 When he is tried, let him be found guilty,
            and may his prayers condemn him.
        8 May his days be few;
            may another take his place of leadership.
        9 May his children be fatherless
            and his wife a widow.
        10 May his children be wandering beggars;
            may they be driven from their ruined homes.

         My God, whom I praise,
            do not remain silent…
        Help me, Lord my God;
            save me according to your unfailing love.
        27 Let them know that it is your hand,
            that you, Lord, have done it.
        28 While they curse, may you bless;
            may those who attack me be put to shame,
            but may your servant rejoice.
        29 May my accusers be clothed with disgrace
            and wrapped in shame as in a cloak.

        He’s asking God do it for him. And I think that is the difference maker. David is still relying on God’s power, he’s not trusting in himself or being caught in arrogance, he’s simply asking God to punish his enemies. And I think that’s just fine for us, after the cross, but this time, it’s Satan and his demons.

        Lastly, I think that’s good for a proof, but I think we might get curious and say, why is it that way? Why do angels have to do thay, rely upon God in that manner? And us too, we who are the very bride of  Christ? Why? I think it’s the very point of what Paul said, in 2 Co 12:10,

         That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

        God allowed Satan to be who he is. Isaiah 54:16,

         See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc;

        He wrote this story such that we would be weak enough in the face of enemy that we would be required to lean upon Jesus for our strength and Jesus alone. Job is the extreme example of this being played out in real life. Yes Satan has been given some power  in the world for a short time, but God absolutely uses him for his purposes, as he did with Job, to test our hearts and make us more into the image of his Son. This is the ultimate reason in my opinion why we really don’t have power on our own, because that is how the story is written. Because the story is all about Jesus, only Jesus, and only through him are we saved, even if we are glorious beings redeemed through his blood, we still require his power to stand and fight.

        So I think we both got to the same answes, slightly different paths. But definitely not mutually exclusive paths. And I really, really liked yours!

        Plus I love discussing the deep things like this!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Joel, this is so good. You bring out so many good points. yes we did get to the same truth just different elements brought in. That is so cool! Yes I like to think of Jedi knight Angels too fighting for us!
        The bottom line is God is God! He is omnipotent. Everything flows from him and through him. And it’s a good point to mention that we can’t just use His name in vain when fighting against evil. We must know Him intimately and be a friend of God. Saying, “in the name of Jesus” if we are not true believers is no good. My dad mentioned to me about CS Lewis book on Psalm. I’m going get that. I’ve never read that.
        One things for sure and you brought that out, is we can only boast in two things weakness and the cross. God gets the glory! Wow I am so pumped. You really got me thinking more about this. I am going to continue to look into this.
        I love how you brought in Epheasians 6.
        Blessings to you on your sabbath!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Amen! You should write some more on this, you definitely have some good wisdom and insight on this! Was your dad referring to Reflections on the Psalms, Lewis? I haven’t read this yet, but just glancing at it on Amazon, I really want too now! I’m in the midst of finishing an Umberto Eco novel (not Christian lit, but it’s a murder mystery in a 14th century remote abbey, its so good lol. Although the author isn’t Christian so you have to “chew up the meat, spit out the bones” when he starts reflecting on stuff lol.”), but I might order this later this month and read it. It’s been at least 2 years since i sat down to read Lewis! His books are perfect for fall and winter!

        I might have to write some more on this too! I’m pumped on it as well!! But you’re so right, it’s all about Jesus!

        Thank you – I had a Great sabbath. So nice to unplug! Now, it’s back to business. Small groups at church with my 5th grade boys today and then we switched the time on our families small group and are doing it today, so I’m buried in some francis chan and coffee while playing with the kiddos!

        Blessings to you on your sunday!! Hope it’s relaxing!!

        Liked by 1 person

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