Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Cursing Psalms

Previous weeks = Praise Psalms
                            Thanksgiving Psalms
                            Lament Psalms

Today:  The Cursing Psalms
Psm. 83:1-18 - Imprecatory, Maledictory - to invoke, call out, ask for calamity &/or misfortune
Psm. 109:1-15, 58:6-8

(1)  Imprecations (prayers) are found throughout Psalms - usually mingled w/lament and prayer for deliverance.
Psm. 79:1-5 = lament
Psm. 79:6 = imprecation
Psm. 79:9-11 - prayer for deliverance
Psm. 79:12 = imprecation

(2)  Imprecations are not unique to Psalms 
      Neh. 4:4-5 
      Hosea 9:14
      Jer. 18:19-23

(2)  Imprecations are not unique to Old Testament 
       Acts 13:8-11 - Peter & Barnabas on Cyprus)
       Gal. 1:8-9 - (with 1 Cor. 16:22, 1 Tim. 1:20)
       Matt. 23:13 - (w/Matt. 23:26, 26, 23, 25, 27, 29 - declaration or invocation?
       Rev. 6:9-10 - from heaven

How to answer this in light of New Testament teachings?
     Matt. 5:43-44
     Luke 6:27-29
     Luke 23:34
     Rom. 12:14, 17, 21

One one hand, we don't claim to have all the answers!!
However, do have some observations/considerations that may help!

(1)  The pray-er is observing (what appears to him to be) a grave injustice!!
In laments, often is against an impersonal force.  However, here = Personal Antagonist!! - person/people with free will and ill intent!!  determined to act.
(2)  The pray-er cries for justice from a just God
God has Revealed Himself as a Just God who is our Avenger  - Deut. 32.:1-4, 35
Pray-ers are praying for God to do what He said He would do.

(3)  The Pray-er is expressing deep human passion in light of grave human injustice
Psm. 137:1-9  (example:  you walk in these shoes)

(4)  Though the prayers are severe, the pray-er leaves the outcome in God's hands!  Prov. 26:2
Note:  David's prayers often more sever than his actions - example:  actions toward Saul - refused to raise his hand against God's anointed.
David wrote a large part of the imprecatory prayers.

(5)  These are more than personal enemies - - These are enemies of God's righteousness - (His law, rule, people, Kingdom, His Person!!)
Example:  Nuremberg trials - not against all German people, soldiers! 

(6)  The pray-er appeals to a just God ... as one of His personal subjects 
I'm your kid, these are your people - therefore:  Rise up!  in Anger!  Protect!  Avenge!

(7)  Though we may never be able to answer all questions and objections about imprecatory prayers, let us remember - we do not possess the wisdom of God.  Deut. 29:29 - Some things we don't know.  We are never going to know it all. 

So... what to do with these prayers?

#1.  Accept them as legitimate! - they are Scripture.  - 2 Tim. 3:16-17

#2.  Use them with great caution - James 1:19-20
When we are angry, usually do not act righteously.

#3.  Be careful of literal intent - Psm. 59:5, 13, 11 - example:  "drop dead!"  mean it literally???
Psm. 137:8-9 - Would you truly literally, physically want that???
Sometimes we go too far!

#4.  Use these as a plea for God's Righteousness .... NOT for petty, selfish issues.  (example:  neighbor's dog, cattle, music, etc.)

#5.  Read these in the light of the Cross - clearly God wants all men to be saved.
     (a)  Jesus died for my wickedness.
    (b)  God wants all men saved.   1 Tim. 2:4, 2 Pet. 3:9

Sample prayer: 
Lord, if these people really deserve this .....
         if this is within your will, desire, plan ....
         if this would really help your cause
        if I'm not blinded by my own selfish desires....
THEN Lord, do this and this ...
On the other hand, if I'm being narrow, selfish, and petty ...
Then Lord, ignore this plea, grant me illumination (help me see how selfish, petty, vindictive I am),
and give me grace to accept, repent - because You are LORD and I am not!!!

Closing Scripture:  Psm. 8:31-36,46-47

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