Imprecatory is not a word we use very often.
To imprecate means “to invoke or call down (evil or curses) upon a person.”
There are about 20 “Imprecatory Psalms” . . . writings where the authors declared their frustration and righteous anger at the lies being spread and attacks being made against them.
Psalm 109 is one of David’s “imprecatory Psalms.” It was written at a time when he was more than just a little frustrated with enemies who were attacking him through slander and lies…
O God, whom I praise,Psalm 109:1–5
don’t stand silent and aloof
while the wicked slander me
and tell lies about me.
They surround me with hateful words
and fight against me for no reason.
I love them, but they try to destroy me with accusations
even as I am praying for them!
They repay evil for good,
and hatred for my love.
You can almost feel his pain. It’s a special kind of pain when we are being slandered with false accusations and smeared with falsehoods intending to defeat and destroy us.
And through our anger and frustration, the enemy of our souls loves to use these situations to encourage us to retaliate . . . “to call down evil or curses” upon them.
Jesus faced all of the same frustrations and challenges we face and this is what He told His followers to do when people turned against them…
I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! (Matthew 5:44)
And through Peter, God says, “Give it to me.”
Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. (1 Peter 5:7)
The enemy tells us to get mad and get even but the Lord tells us to get on our knees and pray.
The thing that struck me as I read through these Imprecatory Psalms is that they aren’t sugar-coated half-hearted prayers asking God to simply change the hearts and behaviors of these enemies . . . they are prayers of righteous indignation. They humbly and honestly give the situation to the Father and ask Him to deal with them and judge them according to His perfect will.
The Life Application Bible Notes say it like this . . . “David was not taking vengeance into his own hands; he was asking that God be swift in His promised judgment of evil people.”
Imprecatory Psalms speak honest feelings with humble faith to the Great, I AM. They boldly say, “This is unfair, Lord.”
Remember that although David’s words sound severe, he was taking his frustration and anger to God. Rather than dealing with it himself, David trusted the Holy Righteous Judge to deal justly with sin and evil.
And we need to know that we can too.
We’re tempted to vehemently complain to friends and family when someone has lied or spread gossip about us. We want to react to evil with an equal or greater response but God says “Bring it to me.”
He knows. He has seen and heard it all and He tells us to lay it down before me. He is able to comfort, strengthen, and help us.
David also wrote…
The Lord hears His people when they call to Him for help.Psalm 34:17–18
He rescues them from all their troubles.
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
He rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
A Prayer to Go to God with
Imprecatory Psalms and Prayers
Father God, in this social media age, it’s so tempting to publicly shame those who offend, betray, or harm us. Everyone does it, so it almost feels okay. And it will certainly make us feel better, won’t it?
No. I know You’re right and You are righteous. You know the truth in every situation and You know the motivation behind that truth. So, You invite me to give it all to You. You ask me to trust that You are perfect with love and fairness.
You promise that You are with me and that I can rest in Your loving care. I will trust that You are at work in all things. You are at work in those who hurt me. You are at work in me. And You are at work in the circumstances that surround this situation. Although, I don’t understand right now; someday all that is important will be made clear.
By Your grace and with Your help, I will cast my cares upon You and rest in Your love. Thank you for hearing my prayer. I am Yours forever. By Your grace and with Your Spirit’s help, I will give you thanks and praise now and forevermore. In Jesus’ holy name, I pray. Amen.
I’ll admit, that there have been times when I wanted to proclaim my pain with bold self-righteousness so that I could publicly shame those who had hurt me. I wish I could say I’ve been perfect about only crying out to the Lord and leaving it to Him and letting Him take care of it. I’m definitely not batting a thousand.
But I’ve also learned an important truth…
The times I have taken my honest feelings to God and given my painful circumstances to Him, His protection guarded us and spared us in ways that filled us with humble and awestruck gratitude.
But I will give repeated thanks to the Lord,Psalm 109:30–31
praising Him to everyone.
For He stands beside the needy,
ready to save them from those who condemn them.
May we trust the One who is loving and faithful with our honest emotions trusting Him to be with us and help us when people lie about us and betray us.
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