Should We Pray for God to Punish Our Enemies?

Praying Through the Bible #67

TEXT: Psalm 109

We are in a series of messages titled “Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible”. The purpose of this series is to encourage and motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have done 66 messages in this series.

This is message #67, titled “Should We Pray for God to Punish Our Enemies?”

Today, we come to a passage which is one of the great conundrums of Scripture. It is one of those passages that makes us pause and consider what we think we know of God and the Bible. The reason why is because, to put it simply, David is praying to God for trouble, for harm, for calamity to fall on others. This seems to go against all that we know about Biblical teachings and the Christian faith. We are more familiar with such words as, “love your enemies,” “bless those who curse you,” and “turn the other cheek.”

C.S. Lewis called this psalm an “unabashed hymn of hate.” Charles Spurgeon said of Psalm 109, “Truly this is one of the hard places of Scripture, a passage which the soul trembles to read.” Yet, God, in His providence and wisdom allowed this psalm to be preserved for us today. As Spurgeon goes on to say, “it is a Psalm unto God, and given by inspiration, it is not ours to sit in judgment upon it, but to bow our ear to what God the Lord would speak to us therein.” And that is what we will do today — find out what the Lord would have us to take away from this passage.

It is quite fitting that we come to this passage today in light of the death of Nelson Mandela last week. When you think about it, Mandela could have very well prayed this prayer or one similar to it. He could identify with David. After being unfairly imprisoned for 27 years, Mandela could have become angry, bitter, and hateful to those who had put him in jail. He could have come out seeking revenge for what had been done to him. That would have been a very natural and human thing to do.

In this passage, David cries out to God about how his enemies are treating him. Scholars have suggested that this Psalm was one of those written while David was on the run from King Saul. Saul had been unjust in his dealings with David. He was jealous of God’s favor on David’s life and the favor that David found in the eyes of the people. He viewed David, who had never done him any wrong, as a threat and wanted to eliminate him. That is the kind of situation we are dealing with here.

In light of that, I want us to use three key words that will help us grasp and grapple with this difficult text.

1. The first key word that we will use to understand David’s prayer is “focus.” Notice verse 1: “Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise…” This verse tells us where David’s focus is.

2. The second key word that we will use to understand David’s prayer is “foundation.” As the false words of the wicked assail David’s character, as they continue to attack David without cause, David says in verse 4, “For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer.”

3. The third key word we will use today to help us understand David’s prayer is “final act.” Now, we move into the outcome of the matter. David prays for specific judgments upon his enemies. He says, “Let his days be few; and let another take his office. Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow… As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him: as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him.” For 14 verses, David goes on asking God to punish his enemies. Then, we come to verse 20. This verse says, “Let this be the reward of mine adversaries from the Lord, and of them that speak evil against my soul.”

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