Impenitence and Imprecation

Today’s reading is Psalm 35.

We call them imprecatory psalms. They give us no end of consternation. To imprecate someone is to invoke a curse on them. Thus, imprecatory psalms are psalms that call for people to be cursed by God. Jesus tells us to love our enemies, to pray for them, to bless them. Rather than wanting them to be judged and condemned, we should want them to repent and be justified. Yet, David calls down the curses of God on his enemies. What is that about?

While there are quite a few statements that are imprecatory in the Psalms, there are only a handful of psalms that get so deep into this that the psalm is called imprecatory. Psalm 35 is pretty universally accepted as being one of those psalms.

David asks God to take a spear and javelin (some translations say battle-axe) against his pursuers. He wants them to be driven away like chaff. He wants their way to become dark and slippery. He wants destruction to come on them. He wants them to fall into their own pits. Let’s be honest. That’s pretty intense.

While some take Psalm 35 as the first of the imprecatory psalms. Others attribute that honor to Psalm 7. Obviously, these psalms didn’t come labeled with our modern labels. Whether Psalm 7 is the first imprecatory psalm or not, there is a statement in that psalm we need to remember with all of the imprecatory psalms and statements we read.

If a man does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and readied his bow; he has prepared for him his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts.

Psalm 7:12-13

It is interesting to note that Psalm 7 goes on to say of the wicked, “He makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends.” This sounds a great deal like the imprecations of Psalm 35:7-8.

There are many things we can say about imprecations in the psalms, but at the top of the list needs to be this. Very early in the Psalms, the template for curses and imprecations is established. These curses are for those who refuse to repent. Underlying every imprecation is the understanding that just as we were forgiven when we repented, if others repent, they will be forgiven. Undergirding every imprecation is the understanding that the one praying the imprecation would rather see repentance in others, just as God allowed it in us.

However, if someone continues impenitently in rebellion against God and in their attacks on God’s people, then cursing is what will come. While our first line of prayer for people is for their salvation and well-being, as David’s was in Psalm 35:13-14, we recognize it is right to pray for God to bring justice for God’s people and bring judgment on the impenitent enemies of God’s people (see Paul in 2 Timothy 4:14; 1 Corinthians 16:22; Galatians 1:8-9; Revelation 6:10).

And, of course, it is always proper to notice that these imprecations are not saints meting out their personal revenge on others. In each case, these writers are leaving room for the judgment of God. They are bringing these prayers to God for Him to answer in the way He sees as best.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 35.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post!

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Asking God to Be God

Today’s reading is Psalm 35.

The first few verses of Psalm 35 seem odd to us. They picture God as lawyer and warrior. Someone is contending against me (and that is actually a legal term), contend against them for me. Someone is fighting against me, rise up and fight them for me. He really digs into the warrior metaphor in vss. 2-3, asking God to take up shields and weapons, and saying to David, “I will be your salvation!”

Then there are vss. 5-6 asking the Lord to have His angel chase the enemies away like chaff before the wind (yes, you should remember Psalm 1:4 here). What is going on here?

Let’s not read this in a vacuum. Look in Exodus 23:20-33. I’ll provide some excerpts.

Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared for you…But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries…I will send my terror before you and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you…

David didn’t just make up his prayer on the spot. He wasn’t just thinking of all the things he could say and created these ideas. David knew the Torah.

What is he doing in these prayers? He is asking God to be God. He is asking God to be for him, what He promised to be for Israel. He is asking God to be what God has already said He would be for His people.

Do you want to pray more effectively? Take a page out of David’s book and ask God to be in your life what God has declared He is.

Tomorrow’s reading is Psalm 35.

PODCAST!!!

Click here to take about 15 minutes to listen to the Text Talk conversation between Andrew Roberts and Edwin Crozier sparked by this post!

Continue reading “Asking God to Be God”

Worth It All

Today’s reading is Matthew 13.

The kingdom of heaven is a grand treasure. It is worth more than anything we have. I promise you between the choice of Christ’s kingdom and anything else you are tempted to hang on to, Christ’s kingdom really is better. We won’t truly realize that until the end, but it is true. There will come a day when if we choose to hang on to something that keeps us separate from the kingdom of Christ, we will regret it. Whether it is a relationship, treasure, social position, safety, family, friends, fame, fortune, a poor attitude, a desire for vengeance, a grudge, whatever we decide we won’t sell in order to have the kingdom, in the end, will be empty compared to the kingdom. Don’t be deceived. Christ’s kingdom really is worth it all. Why not give it all up in order to have His kingdom today?

Tomorrow’s reading is Matthew 14.

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