Contra-Christian (Imprecatory Psalms as)

“[t]he psalms of imprecation are not ‘lower’ revelations but revelations of the highest judgment. They show that Christ, to whom all judgment has been given, will surely have His day of reckoning.”[1]

“It must be obvious to the attentive student of the imprecatory psalms, that their effect is to restrain us from sin, to make us love and value justice, to lead us to commit vengeance into the hands of the Lord, thus strongly deterring us from private and personal revenge, and to show us that God is to be praised for His justice as well as His mercy.”[2]

“God is both sovereign and righteous; he possesses the unquestionable right to destroy all evil in his universe; if it is right for God to plan and effect this destruction, then it is also right for the saints to pray for the same.”[3]

“Even the prayer for the death of the wicked person who is a reprobate is not only not immoral but is in itself righteous and is, in fact, included in the pattern of prayer commonly called ‘The Lord’s Prayer” which teaches us to pray: ‘Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” God’s kingdom cannot come without Satan’s kingdom being destroyed. God’s will cannot be done in earth without the destruction of evil. Evil cannot be destroyed without the destruction of men who are permanently identified with it. Instead of being influenced by the sickly sentimentalism of the present day, Christian people should realize that the glory of God demands the destruction of evil. Instead of being insistent upon the assumed, but really non-existent, rights of men, they should focus their attention upon the rights of God. Instead of being ashamed of the Imprecatory Psalms, and attempting to apologize for them and explain them away, Christian people should glory in them and not hesitate to use them in the public and private exercises of the worship of God.”[4]

“The Psalms, like the rest of Scripture, contain hard sayings which force Christians humbly to ask the Spirit’s help to comprehend them. Some Psalms, especially the Psalms of innocence and the Psalms of imprecation, cannot be sung simply as our own. We sing them as the word of Christ himself; we in him beseech God for justice.”[5]

“1) In the first gospel promise (Gen 3.14-15), God promises a curse on the serpent and his seed. Prayers in the psalms for God to curse are really a prayer for that first gospel promise to be fulfilled.
2) David was not a vindictive person – in fact he was a very forgiving character. So this is not personal vindictiveness. The Bible portrays David as a merciful and gracious man who often prayed for his enemies. The imprecatory psalms he wrote, then, sprang not from a vindictive temper, but from a heart on fire for God’s glory.
3) The king represented God. God’s reputation was tied up with the king. Offending the king was offending God’s anointed. And David was God’s anointed in a particularly special, Christological way.
4) There are multiple NT quotations from the imprecatory psalms. 35, 69 and 109 are the most frequently quoted Psalms in NT after 2, 22, 110 and 118. So clearly the NT is not embarrassed about these psalms.
5) The NT has its own imprecations. Jesus himself pronounced curses on the Jewish leaders in Matthew 23. Also Gal 1.8-9 and famously 1 Cor 16.22: “If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed.”
6) The imprecatory psalms are based on the justice of God. The theme of the imprecatory psalms is that justice be done and the innocent righteous vindicated. Furthermore, the foundation of biblical justice was retribution: “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”—a principle to which the psalms often appeal (“Let the net that he hid ensnare him,” Ps. 35:8). If the idea of retributive justice is lost or devalued, then the imprecatory psalms will never be properly understood.
7) The Psalmist is really praying “Thy kingdom come” – which involves not just the upbuilding of God’s kingdom, but the destroying of competing kingdoms. Preferably by conversion, but if not, by removal.
8) The eighth help is a reminder that “vengeance is the Lord’s.” To pray the imprecatory psalms is to deny one’s own right to vengeance and leave it to God’s wisdom. It’s hard in our context to relate right away to these psalms, since we live easily in a land with no imminent persecution. But God’s Kingdom is still at war, and these are war psalms.
9) An imprecatory prayer will often have the good of the sinner at its heart, because God will often use judgments to bring sinners to himself.
10) Finally, the imprecatory psalms point us to Christ, who at the end of time will return to punish the wicked and vindicate his people. Ultimately the imprecatory psalms will be answered and fulfilled in the return of Christ and the last judgment.” [6]

1Van’t Veer, M.B. My God Is Yahweh. St. Catherines: Paideia Press, 1980, page 297.
2Webster, J.H. “The Imprecatory Psalms” in The Psalms in Worship (1907), Edmonton: Still Waters Revival Books, 1992, page 309.
3Vos, Johannes G. “The Ethical Problem of the Imprecatory Psalms.” Westminster Theological Journal, Vol. IV, No. 2 (May 1942), pp. 123-138.
5RPCNA Synod’s Study Committee on Worship. “The Psalms in the Worship of the Church.” Submitted to the Synod of the RPCNA, June 2004. First Reformed Presbyterian of Cambridge. PDF article.
6Murray, David. “10 helps on the Imprecatory Psalms.” Shall We Sing a Song for You? Stephen Steele., June 11, 2003. Web. January 23, 2016.