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“I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.” Matt 13:35
“He began to teach them many things in parables.” Mark 4:2
“But without a parable spake he not unto them: and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.” Mark 4:35
Communicating with Images and Stories
Like the rabbis of his time, Jesus used simple word-pictures, called parables, to help people understand who God is and what his kingdom or reign is like. Jesus used images and characters taken from everyday life to create a miniature play or drama to illustrate his message. This was Jesus most common way of teaching. His stories appealed to the young and old, poor and rich, and to the learned and unlearned as well.
Over a third of the Gospels by Matthew, Mark, and Luke contain parables told by Jesus. Jesus loved to use illustrations to reach the heart of his listeners through their imagination. These word-pictures challenged the mind to discover anew what God is like and moved the heart to make a response to God’s love and truth. Like a skillful artist, Jesus painted lively pictures with short and simple words.
A good picture can speak more loudly and clearly than many words. Jesus used the ordinary everyday to point to another order of reality – hidden, yet visible to those who had “eyes to see” and “ears to hear”. Jesus communicated with pictures and stories, vivid illustrations which captured the imaginations of his audience more powerfully than an abstract presentation could. His parables are like buried treasure waiting to be discovered. (Matt 13:44)
How can ordinary everyday images and stories, such as hidden treasure, a tiny mustard seed, a determined woman looking for her lost coin, a barren fig tree, a pearl of great price, and some uninvited wedding guests, portray timeless and extraordinary truths? Jesus taught by use of comparisons. “To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed…” (Mark 4:30-31)
God’s kingdom or reign is like what happens in Jesus’ stories. The comparisons have to do with a whole process, and not simply with an object or person alone. While his parables are rooted in a specific time and place, they nonetheless speak of timeless realities to people of every time and place. They underline the fact that God works in every age and he meets us in the ordinary everyday situations of life.
What is a Parable?
A parable is a word-picture which uses an image or story to illustrate a truth or lesson. It creates a mini-drama in picture language that describes the reality being illustrated. It shows a likeness between the image of an illustration and the object being portrayed. It defines the unknown by using the known. It helps the listener to discover the deeper meaning and underlying truth of the reality being portrayed. It can be a figure of speech or comparison, such as “the kingdom of God ..is like a mustard seed ..or like yeast” (Luke 13:19, 21)
More commonly it is a short story told to bring out a lesson or moral. Jesus used simple stories or images to convey important truths about God and his kingdom, and lessons pertaining to the way of life and happiness which God has for us. They commonly feature examples or illustrations from daily life in ancient Palestine, such as mustard seeds and fig trees, wineskins and oil lamps, money and treasure, stewards, workers, judges, and homemakers, wedding parties and children’s games. Jesus’ audience would be very familiar with these illustrations from everyday life. Today we have to do some homework to understand the social customs described.
Jesus’ parables have a double meaning. First, there is the literal meaning, apparent to anyone who has experience with the subject matter. But beyond the literal meaning lies a deeper meaning – a beneath-the-surface lesson about God’s truth and his kingdom. For example, the parable of the leaven (see Matt 13:33) describes the simple transformation of dough into bread by the inclusion of the yeast.
In like manner, we are transformed by God’s kingdom when we allow his word and Spirit to take root in our hearts. And in turn we are called to be leaven that transforms the society in which we live and work. Jerome, an early church father and biblical scholar remarked: “The marrow of a parable is different from the promise of its surface, and like as gold is sought for in the earth, the kernel in a nut and the hidden fruit in the prickly covering of chestnuts, so in parables we must search more deeply after the divine meaning.”
Jesus’ parables often involve an element of surprise or an unexpected twist. We are taken off guard by the progression of the story. The parable moves from the very familiar and understandable aspects of experience to a sudden turn of events or a remarkable comparison which challenges the hearer and invites further reflection. For example, why should a shepherd go through a lot of bother and even risk his life to find one lost sheep when ninety-nine are in his safe keeping? The shepherd’s concern for one lost sheep and his willingness to risk his own life for it tells us a lot about God’s concern for his children who go astray.
How to Read the Parables
Jesus told his disciples that not everyone would understand his parables. “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God; but for others they are in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not hear”. (Luke 8:10)
Did Jesus mean to say that he was deliberately confusing his listeners? Very likely not. Jesus was speaking from experience. He was aware that some who heard his parables refused to understand them. It was not that they could not intellectually understand them, but rather, their hearts were closed to what Jesus was saying. They had already made up their minds to not believe.
God can only reveal the secrets of his kingdom to the humble and trusting person who acknowledges the need for God and for his truth. The parables of Jesus will enlighten us if we approach them with an open mind and heart, ready to let them challenge us. If we approach them with the conviction that we already know the answer, then we, too, may look but not see, listen but not hear or understand.
When reading the parables it is important to not get bogged down in the details of the story. The main point is what counts. Very often the details are clear enough, but some are obscure: for example, why would a rich man allow his dishonest steward to take care of his inventory (see Luke 16:1-8).
A storyteller doesn’t have to make every detail fit perfectly. Each parable will typically present a single point. Look for the main point and don’t get bogged down in the details. In addition, Jesus often throws in a surprise or unexpected twist. These challenge the hearer and invite us to reflect. Jesus meant for his parables to provoke a response. If we listen with faith and humility then each will understand as he or she is able to receive what Jesus wishes to speak to each of our hearts.
Parables from Nature
The Sower and the Seeds: Mark 4:3-9; Matt 13:3-9; Luke 8:5-8
The Grain of Wheat: John 12:24
The Weeds in the Grain or the Tares: Matt 13:24-30
The Net: Matt 13:47-50
The Seed Growing Secretly or The Patient Husbandman: Mark 4:26-29
The Mustard Seed: Matt 13:31; Mark 4:30-32; Luke 13:18
The Leaven: Matt 13:33; Luke 13:20
The Budding Fig Tree: Matt 24:32; Mark 13:28; Luke 21:19-31
The Barren Fig Tree: Luke 13:6-9
The Birds of Heaven: Matt 6:26; Luke 12:24
The Flowers of the Field: Matt 6:28-30; Luke 12:27
The Vultures & the Carcass: Matt 24:28; Luke 17:37
The Tree and its Fruits: Matt 7:16; Luke 6:43-49
The Weather Signs: Luke 12:54-56; c Matt 26:2; Mark 8:11-13
Work and Wages
Master and Servant: Luke 17:7-10
The Servant Entrusted with Authority or The Faithful and Unfaithful Servants: Matt. 24:45-51; Luke 12:42-46
The Waiting Servants: Luke 12:35-38; Mark 13:33-37
The Laborers in the Vineyard or The Generous Employer: Matt 20:1-16
The Money in Trust or The Talents: Matt 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-27
The Lamp: Matt 5:14-16; Mark 4:21; Luke 8:16, 11:31
The City Set on a Hill: Matt. 5:14
The Body’s Lamp: Matt 6:22; Luke 11:34-36
The Discarded Salt: Matt 5:13; Mark 9:50; Luke 14:34
The Patch and the Wineskins: Matt 9:16; Mark 2:21; Luke 5:36-39
The Householder’s Treasure: Matt 13:52
The Dishonest Steward: Luke 16:1-12
The Defendant: Luke 12:58; Matt 5:25
The Unforgiving Official or The Unmerciful Servant: Matt 18:23-35
The Rich Fool: Luke 12:16-21
The Wicked Vinedressers: Matt 21:33-41; Mark 12:1-9; Luke 20:9-16
The Two Builders: Matt 7:24-27; Luke 6:47-49
The Two Debtors: Luke 7:41-43
The Hidden Treasure: Matt 13:44
The Pearl of Great Price: Matt 13:45
Open and Closed Doors
The Closed Door: Luke 13:24-30
The Doorkeeper: Mark 13:33-37; Matt 24:42
The Strong Man Bound: Matt 12:29; Mark 3:27; Luke 11:21
The Divided Realm: Mark 3:24-26; Luke 11:17-20
The Unoccupied House or The Demon’s Invasion: Matt 12:43-45; Luke 11:24-26
The Importunate Neighbor: Luke 11:5-8
The Son’s Request: Matt 7:9-11; Luke 11:11-13
The Unjust Judge or The Importunate Widow: Luke 18:1-8
The Pharisee and the Publican: Luke 18:9-14
Weddings and Feasts
The Sulking Children or The Children in the Marketplace: Matt 11:16-19; Luke 7:31-35
The Arrogant Guest: Luke 14:7-11
The Bridegroom’s Friend: John 3:28
The Bridegroom’s Attendants: Matt 9:15a; Mark 2:18 ; Luke 5:34
The Bride’s Girlfriends or Ten Virgins: Matt 25:1-13
The Tower Builder and The Warring King: Luke 14:28-32
The Wedding Garment: Matt 22:11-14
The Rich Man and Lazarus: Luke 16:19-31
Lost and Found, Father and Son
The Good Samaritan: Luke 10:25-37
The Prodigal Son or The Loving Father: Luke 15:11-32
The Two Sons, The Apprentice Son, and The Slave and Son: Matt 21:28-32; John 5:19-20a; John 3:35
The Lost Coin: Luke 15:8-10
The Lost Sheep: Matt 28:12-14; Luke 15:4-7
The Shepherd, the Thief, and the Doorkeeper: John 10:1-18
The Doctor and the Sick: Matt 9:12; Mark 2:17; Luke 5: 31
The Great Assize or The Sheep and the Goats: Matt 25:31-46
By Don Schwager
Originally posted on END Trophy Hunting NOW:
Say no to palm oil! Did you know that most of us are unwittingly financing one of the world’s biggest ecological disasters and acts of primate genocide in history? Borneo and Sumatra are…
Imprecatory Psalms contain words that appear at face-value to curse enemies, which become problematic with Christians who strive to love rather than curse their enemies as taught by the Lord Jesus Christ as recorded in Matthew 5:39, 44; Luke 23:24; Romans 12:13; 1 Corinthians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:15. Imprecation means the “invocation of judgment, calamity, or curse uttered against one’s enemies, or the enemies of God. Throughout the Book of Psalms there are almost one hundred verses with imprecations; however, Psalms 35, 55, 59, 69, 79, 109, and 137 are commonly known as the “Imprecatory Psalms.” This paper intends to examine specific Imprecatory Psalms and the teachings of Christ concerning His follower’s response toward their enemies to determine whether Christians should pray the Imprecatory Psalms.
Psalm 35 was written by David with intense emotion and urgency. While the problem that provokes such a prayer is not fully identified, there is “sufficient ambiguity to classify it as an individual lament.” Since the piety of David is notable, and his nature is given to upholding the things of God, we must start our analysis of Imprecatory Psalms with the understanding that his emotional prayers calling for the vengeance of God should not be classified as sinful, especially since they come only after his enemies repeated attacks. Thus, it is imperative that we examine the particulars of each Imprecatory Psalm to gain a full understanding of each circumstance and response.
There are two different type requests made by David to God: those calling God to action, and those calling God to inaction. David asks God to take up the spear and stop the forward progress of those that are persecuting him (3a). Then David asks God to stand in their way, but do nothing more than allow his enemies be confounded (4a), turned back (4b), be as chaff (5) and their way dark and slippery (6a). Then after the enemies are given over to their natural ways, David asks the angel of the LORD to persecute them (6b).
It is significant that David approaches this problem with his enemies in very specific requests of God. While it seems natural for some to declare Psalm 35 as filled with curses, a closer examination of David’s requests and intentions fail to show justification for this categorization.
When David’s reasons for this request are considered, the nature of his prayer is understood even better. David tells God that his enemies are persecuting him (3a), seeking his soul (4a), devising ways to hurt him (4b), setting him up to trap him (7a), and digging deeply to find further avenues to hurt his soul (7b).
Up to this point, we do not have an extreme cursing situation unfolding. It would seem reasonable to suggest that David’s access to God’s ear might well have given him hope to speak serious curses like “strike them dead” or “wipe them out” with full expectation of God’s will to protect him. Instead, David prays for measured intervention by God by requesting that He stop their persecution of him by letting them be fully enveloped by the nature they possess, and as a result, fall into their own trap, with God’s persecution replacing their persecution against him. It was a well-thought out strategy in the midst of serious spiritual and physical warfare; at this point in Psalm 35, there is just no existence of serious curses being shouted to God by David. This approach of David to let the nature of the enemies’ trip up their plans is fully revealed in verse 8 when David asks God to let their net, the snare they laid for him, fall upon them instead.
Calvin describes the prayer in Psalm 34 as one that shows David calling curses upon his enemy in vengeance. However, he acknowledges the often mistaken definition of the Hebrew word שואה “shoah” as meaning sometimes “destruction and ruin,” and other times “confusion.” He determines that the word “confusion” is more applicable in verse 8 when it is taken in context with the words of David. Thus, to declare David’s request to God to allow the enemies to be “confused” is a concept that is seemingly innocuous compared to the curses that David might place upon His enemies.
It is a well-established practice in ancient times to use curses in many different social settings. They are provoked to force others to support causes, to protect property, or to guarantee that transactions are carried through honestly. Curses are also used to promote justice over injustice in legal proceedings; thus, David would have been familiar with all types and degrees of ancient curses that could have heaped misfortune upon his enemies as practiced by his society during the time of his life. Yet, David employs no powerful curse to bring his enemies to end through his prayer to God; at the most, he asks God for their entrapment by their own actions and words, and to do to them what they had intended to do to him.
The measured nature of David’s “curses” in Psalm 34, changes our inquiry. No longer is the question, “Can Christians pray the Imprecatory Psalms” with the suggestion that invoking those prayers rains curses upon the enemies of Christians against the teachings of Christ; rather, we are led to the consideration of whether followers of Christ are allowed to take defensive and offensive measures when violence or war is declared against them and attack is imminent.
Psalm 55 is also an individual lament prayer; David seems filled with despair against friends turned to foes in a similar emotion often linked to the betrayal of Judas against our Lord.
Once again, we must look to David’s words and examine specifically what he is asking God to do to those who have been unjust to him, to determine the nature of the imprecatory prayer. A comparison of Psalm 55 to Psalm 33 shows a striking contrast in both request and reason, which requires separate analysis.
David in Psalm 55 asks God to destroy and divide the tongues of (9) his friends who became his enemies. The curse is succinctly stated: “Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell” (15). Many interpreters link this psalm to the conspiracy of Absalom against David; however, Calvin connects it to the time when David was in extreme danger through the persecution period of Saul. His deeply distressful, fervently emotional pleas to solicit compassion from God to destroy his enemies qualify it as a first-rate curse, asking God to kill those who hate him.
Their offenses against him are presented to God to make a case that wickedness and hatred is visited upon the Psalmist. David encourages God’s attention by noting that not only is he affected, but the he had also seen “violence and strife” (9) and “mischief and sorrow” (10) in the walled city, with “wickedness, deceit and guile” (11) within Jerusalem’s streets.
There is no measured response as we saw in David’s plea in Psalm 33. It is a blunt request for death and hell to be delivered by a perceived vengeful God who will be upset with those whom have hurt the Psalmist. It is a curse request, an imprecatory prayer that holds troubling spiritual dilemma that assumes God favors one over another, and that curses can be implicated upon request of those favored by Him. There is no doubt the Psalmist believes that God would answer his curse requests (18-23); however, it seems far-removed from Christ’s teachings to turn the other cheek and do good to those that hate you (Matthew 5:39). Christians would be well-advised to consider the disobedience to Christ’s teachings if they hold this type of attitude in prayer that is displayed in Psalm 55.
However, that a Christian is able to pray this prayer to God with full expectations of deliverance is part of a valuable intimate relationship with Him. Whether God complies with the request and whether Christ understands the agony of the prayer and forgives the lapse in obedience to His teachings, is really up to them.
A similar comparison might be made to the often spoken phrase by warriors to citizens who abuse the essence of freedom of speech in attacks against military action: “I fought the battle and gave my life, so your freedom of speech was ensured.” Christ died upon the cross for sinners to be given the ability to have relationship with God; their right to speak to Him about anything has been bought by His sacrificed blood. However, mature Christian faith requires enduring obedience to the teachings of Christ. Psalm 55 should not be prayed by those seeking an obedient relationship with Him, especially if it is spoken for the curse impact, rather than the emotional outburst of a hurting soul coming to God for relief.
Psalm 59 has a difficult structure that confuses analysis because of its vocabulary and style, and shaky categorization because it can be either an individual or community lament. Regardless, the request by David is certain; he seeks deliverance from Saul’s guards, which were watching his house to seize and apprehend him which could result in his death (1 Sam. 19:11). David declares his faith in God’s strength, defense, and mercy to deliver him from his enemies (16, 17).
Psalm 59 has some similarity with Psalm 35 and asks God to leave the enemy at their own devices that would eventually destroy them through the way intended for him. It differs from Psalm 55 which David literally curses his enemies to die and go to hell. Rather, Psalm 59 seeks deliverance; David tells God about the predicament he is in, and then asks God to not slay his enemies, but to scatter them (11). David asks God to allow their pride to develop to the point they begin cursing and lying and then to consume them in His wrath. Once again, David relies upon the enemies’ nature to create a situation that brings the wrath of God upon them to bear. The curse is not a specific and definitive action of David to cause his enemies harm; rather, it takes on the similar nature of Psalm 35, allowing his enemies to hang themselves upon their lying words. The measured request asks that when they are scattered, and become overcome with their self-importance, that God treats them like dogs, forcing them to seek out their next meal and hold a grudge deep inside them that cannot be satisfied. (14-15)
Psalm 59 is once again a measure of action that is weighed according to the enemies’ attacks and their reliance upon their fallen nature. While all mature Christians strive to follow Christ’s teachings and love their enemies, David seems to do a bit of “loving enemies” also; he loves his enemies so much that he encourages God to let them love themselves, to their disadvantage when God’s wrath removes their pride forcefully without David’s direct involvement. It is a brilliant, cunning prayer that does not seem to cross the line of hating enemies that is discouraged later on by Christ’s teachings.
Psalm 69 is an individual lament by David to reflect his suffering and confirm his hope in God’s redemption which has tones of the Messiah that allows messianic interpretation in his confidence for deliverance. This is a poem of waiting on the Lord; David has full confidence that one day God will revenge those who have caused him to suffer in his life. Once again, in fashion of Psalms 35 and 59, the key request and commonality within the prayer of David against his enemies is for God to “let” the troubles ensnare them (22-28). It is significant in the evaluation of Imprecatory Psalms to note when a Psalmist asks God to “let” the enemies slide down to their natural ways, thereby evoking the wrath of the Lord, while others call direct curses upon the enemies’ lives.
A significant theological point can be argued that Christ did not command us to protect our enemies from themselves or from God. Many of the imprecatory prayers by David have this character, which seeks a natural order that allows wickedness to fall on their own merits because David knows eventually they will be judged by a wrathful Lord. David is floundering and needs God’s salvation for the mistakes he makes; however, his attitude against his enemies is to let God know how they have hurt him, and wait for God’s righteous judgment and punishment against his enemies to begin.
Messianic interpretation adds another layer, allowing for deeper meaning of David’s “curses.” When verses 21-28 are read, an understanding of what happens to those that reject Christ are expressed and confirmed by other Scriptures throughout the Bible. For instance, “Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not (22) supports the blind condition of the haters of Christ who do not hold faith graced by God (Rom. 11:7-8). Thus, Messianic interpretation that is so keenly associated with the Lord Jesus Christ uses curse metaphors that are literally represented later on. It is difficult to argue the impropriety of praying Imprecatory Psalms, when the Lord Jesus Christ is connected by this example.
Psalm 79 is the corporate lamentations of the Church suffering deep persecution; it is a Psalm of Asaph, written a long time after David’s death. It is written after Jerusalem’s fall and their exile to Judah in 586 B.C. There are two specific cures, both directed upon those who hate God; one asks for God’s wrath to come upon the heathen that do not know Him (6) and the other asks for seven times the reproach they first gave Him (12).
Most of the focus of Psalm 79 is crying to the Lord to remember His sheep, with scant words spoken against the enemy. It does not seem to express the nature of hatred that Christ’s teachings would prohibit; instead, it expresses the same convictive hope that one day God’s justice will come to bear against all those who hate Him and His people.
Psalm 109 is an individual lament that expresses the confidence of God’s covenant with the “unrestrained speech of rage seeking vengeance.” There are numerous imprecations in between the complaint and the expression of gratitude to God that are spoken in words that can be applied to Christ as the head of the church as well as faithful Christians today. Verses 7-19 have the usual “let” requests to God, most of which seem like the typical requests that the previous Psalms have been written. However, a careful examination of the words shows that the Psalmist, while using the less convicting word of “let” has deep curses interlaced: “Let his children be fatherless and his wife a widow” (9), “Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg” (10), “Let his posterity be cut off and in the generation following let their name be blotted out” (13), are some examples that seemingly ask God to allow these developments to happen, but are actually asking for God to kill the male enemies and allow their families to suffer that pain and loss through two generations. This qualifies with Psalm 55 as a very strong Imprecatory Psalm that is cursing the enemies to death through the Psalmist’s vengeance stemming from prior persecution. The teachings of Christ do not allow for vengeance. Vengeance requires the heart to hate and purposely plan persecution against their enemies; Christians would be wise to consider the nature of this Psalm fully.
There is one tiny curse in the Imprecatory Psalm 137; but it is a very notable and powerful one against Babylon: “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones” (9). It is a communal lament that prays for God’s vengeance “between the return of the exiles from Babylon and the rebuilding of the second Temple.” The Psalmist prays as representative of the Church, reminding God of his enemies’ taunts and actions.
The Lord Jesus Christ teaches His followers to not fight evil; but rather to turn the other cheek when struck and to love, bless, do good, and pray for the enemies that use and persecute them. Christians are taught to bless them which persecute, and are prohibited from cursing them (Rom. 12:13). Christians are to endure persecution (1 Cor. 4:12), and see that evil is not rendered against evil to any man (1 Thess. 5:15). The “love your enemies” exhortative teaching by Christ is not found in the Old Testament, and it is unparalleled in it emphatic tone. It is a new way of dealing with enemies that the Psalmists had not known.
It is very evident from Christ’s teachings that curses against evil, or doing evil against evil, is prohibited. However, through our exegesis of the Imprecatory Psalms, it becomes quite apparent that some curses may not be classified in the prohibition to cursing enemies. Certainly, Psalms 55 and 109 are Imprecatory Psalms that fall within these teachings of Christ, and seem very inappropriate to be prayed by Christians.
However, the other Imprecatory Psalms (55, 69, 79, and 137) do not pray curses upon the enemies God and His followers. Rather, they ask God to let the nature of their enemies alone and allow them to develop their wickedness to the point that God’s wrath falls upon them. A strong argument can be made that this natural development of their enemies that is requested by Christians is not a curse, but an acknowledged reality of the nature of wickedness. The heart of Christ has no room for hatred; however, it does not expect wickedness to prosper by handing Christ’s kingdom’s keys to them and watch as they destroy the faithful. Christians can watch as their enemies destroy themselves, and they are not obligated to save them. Just because an enemy is loved by a Christian does not discount that it is still an enemy. Christians can love their enemies and tell them of Christ while at the same time praying to their Lord about the distress and pain they cause in their lives.
The Imprecatory Psalms stand upon the highest ethical grounds, upholds God’s justness and honor, and calls upon His divine retribution for wickedness that has rampantly oppressed the Psalmist without ceasing. Both God’s divine cursing and blessing are contained in the Abrahamic Covenant, which is carried through to the end of the New Testament virtually unchanged. Imprecatory prayers’ purposes reflect judgments against evildoers by God, praises to God in anticipated deliverance, gives the ability to men to recognize God judges the earth, demonstrates the sovereignty of God, prevents the wicked from receiving the blessings of the righteous, and causes the wicked to acknowledge God in these human cries for divine justice.
Christ’s teachings do not always give black-or-white options to every situation, especially to mature Christians who have successfully developed their relationship toward Him with their separation from the world, whose faith has been proved through the Anfechtung testing  monitored by God, and received reward of increased spiritual knowledge for successful stance upon solid faith. The Lord places great responsibility and trust in mature Christians’ understandings’ in both His teaching, and the knowledge of the placement of lines that divide the righteous from the profane to determine and weigh judgment and action. Cursing enemies of the Old Testament and loving enemies in the New Testament complement each other when both Testaments are harmonized together in the ever-increasing dispensational teachings of God.
The Imprecatory Psalms must be analyzed on an individual basis, with the curses sorted through with focus upon intentions and reasons for the prayer to be spoken in the first place. However, a case might be made that if Christians are skilled enough to do proper exegesis on these Psalms, then they should be able to form specific, dedicated prayers to the Lord that does not rely upon rote repetition of the Imprecatory Psalms; it is to the mature Christians’ best interests to form their own prayers
Christian leadership should discourage the praying of Imprecatory Psalms by Christians of immature faith, especially Psalms 55 and 109. The young have neither exegesis skills nor enough knowledge of Christ’s teachings to make discernment in this matter. A wrong focus can damage their faith by relying upon the Imprecatory Psalms; it can make them feel empowered with magical thinking, corrupt their ability to love, and possibly think that God loves some more than others. However, the Imprecatory Psalms are excellent discussion opportunities that allow Christ’s teachings to be fully expressed as guided exegesis is conducted. The Imprecatory Psalms should not be excluded from liturgical and didactic services of the church; rather, the congregation should be taught that denying the conscience that feels the judicial injustice and not calling for God’s retribution brings dishonor to God. Christians must know that Christ’s love requirements do not remove the justice of God. There are also therapeutic implications to the use of Imprecatory Psalms in the Christian counseling session, that helps guided Christians to voice negative emotions in the midst of justified anger.
Mature Christians should have little need to pray the Imprecatory Psalms specifically. They should be well-versed in their exegesis, marvel at some and reject others, and possibly copy their patterns in their own prayers; but, they should always depend upon their own words to address the crisis of persecution that is at hand. They should express the greatest of faiths in the example of the Psalmists when they navigate their requests for God’s help with their enemies to be strengthened and equipped through their prayers of distress as they cry out to God in their need for divine justice.
Even Christians have recourse in their prayers to receive power to endure the persecutions of wickedness through the hope of God’s divine justice one day realized against their enemies. Though some may argue that Imprecatory Psalms should not be prayed, citing the higher authority of Christ over the Psalmists, the “sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Eph. 6:17) can be wielded as a weapon that includes “the kindness and the severity of God” (Rom. 11:22) Imprecatory pleadings not only strengthen the believers but bring honor to God in expressing their convictive hope and faith in His divine justice and sovereign judgment.
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Rockwell, William Walker, William Adams Brown and Thomas Cumin Hall. “Three Addresses Delivered by Professors in Union Theological Seminary at a Service in Commemoration of the Four Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of John Calvin: In the Adams Chapel on Monday Evening, the Third of May, Nineteen Hundred and Nine.” Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009.
VanGemeren, Willem A. Psalms. Vol. 5 The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 5: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Edited by Frnk E. Gaebelein. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991.
 David E. Aune, Word Biblical Commentary: Revelation 6-16, Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 52B (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), 409.
 J. Carl Laney, “A Fresh Look at the Imprecatory Psalms,” Bibliotheca sacra 138, no. 549 (1981): 35.
 John N. Day, “The Imprecatory Psalms and Christian Ethics,” Bibliotheca sacra 159, no. 634 (2002): 169.
 Leslie C. Allen, Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 101-150 (Revised), Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 2002), 286.
 Day: 166.
 John and James Anderson Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2010), Ps. 35:8-10.
 Aune, 409-410.
 Willem A. VanGemeren, Psalms, ed. Frnk E. Gaebelein, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 5: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, vol. 5 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1991), 392.
 Calvin, Psalm 55.
 VanGemeren, 409-410.
 Calvin, Psalm 59.
 VanGemeren, 454.
 Calvin, Psalm 69.
 Ibid., Psalm 79.
 Ibid., 519.
 VanGemeren, 689.
 Calvin, Psalm 109.
 VanGemeren, 826.
 Calvin, Psalm 137.
 Darrell L. Bock, Luke Volume 1:1:1-9:50, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Books, 1994), 588.
 Day: 181.
 Ibid., 167.
 Laney: 41.
 Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 51: Sermons I, ed. Hilton C. Oswald and Helmut T. Lehmann Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Luther’s Works (Philadelphia: Fortress PRess, 1999), 181.
 Day: 186.
 William Greenough, Thayer Shedd and Alan W. Gomes, Dogmatic Theology, 3rd ed. (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P & R Pub., 2003), 937.
 Dominick D. Hankle, “The Therapeutic Implications of the Imprecatory Psalms in the Christian Counseling Setting,” Journal of Psychology & Theology 38, no. 4 (2010): 275.
 William Walker Rockwell, William Adams Brown and Thomas Cumin Hall, “Three Addresses Delivered by Professors in Union Theological Seminary at a Service in Commemoration of the Four Hundredth Anniversary of the Birth of John Calvin: In the Adams Chapel on Monday Evening, the Third of May, Nineteen Hundred and Nine,” (Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 34.
 Reed Lessing, “Broken Teeth, Bloody Baths, and Baby Bashing: Is There Any Place in the Church for Imprecatory Psalms?,” Concordia Journal 32, no. 4 (2006): 370.
By Kathy L. McFarland
Becker Bible Studies
“For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” (1 John 5:7 AKJV)
100 Titles of Jesus found in the Bible
|Advocate||1 John 2:1|
|Almighty||Rev. 1:8; Mt. 28:18|
|Alpha and Omega||Rev. 1:8; 22:13|
|Apostle of our Profession||Heb. 3:1|
|Atoning Sacrifice for our Sins||1 John 2:2|
|Author of Life||Acts 3:15|
|Author and Perfecter of our Faith||Heb. 12:2|
|Author of Salvation||Heb. 2:10|
|Beginning and End||Rev. 22:13|
|Blessed and only Ruler||1 Tim. 6:15|
|Bread of God||1 Tim. 6:15|
|Bread of Life||1 Tim. 6:15|
|Capstone||Acts 4:11; 1 Pet. 2:7|
|Chief Cornerstone||Eph. 2:20|
|Chief Shepherd||1 Pet. 5:4|
|Christ||1 John 2:22|
|Eternal Life||1 John 1:2; 5:20|
|Everlasting Father||Isa. 9:6|
|Faithful and True||Rev. 19:11|
|Faithful Witness||Rev. 1:5|
|Faith and True Witness||Rev. 3:14|
|First and Last||Rev. 1:17; 2:8; 22:13|
|Firstborn From the Dead||Rev. 1:5|
|God||John 1:1; 20:28; Heb. 1:8; Rom. 9:5; 2 Pet. 1:1;1 John 5:20 and others|
|Good Shepherd||John 10:11,14|
|Great Shepherd||Heb. 13:20|
|Great High Priest||Heb. 4:14|
|Head of the Church||Eph. 1:22; 4:15; 5:23|
|Heir of all things||Heb. 1:2|
|High Priest||Heb. 2:17|
|Holy and True||Rev. 3:7|
|Holy One||Acts 3:14|
|Hope||1 Tim. 1:1|
|Hope of Glory||Col. 1:27|
|Horn of Salvation||Luke 1:69|
|I Am||John 8:58|
|Image of God||2 Cor. 4:4|
|King Eternal||1 Tim. 1:17|
|King of Israel||John 1:49|
|King of the Jews||Mt. 27:11|
|King of kings||1 Tim 6:15; Rev. 19:16|
|King of the Ages||Rev. 15:3|
|Lamb of God||John 1:29|
|Lamb Without Blemish||1 Pet. 1:19|
|Last Adam||1 Cor. 15:45|
|Life||John 14:6; Col. 3:4|
|Light of the World||John 8:12|
|Lion of the Tribe of Judah||Rev. 5:5|
|Living One||Rev. 1:18|
|Living Stone||1 Pet. 2:4|
|Lord||2 Pet. 2:20|
|Lord of All||Acts 10:36|
|Lord of Glory||1 Cor. 2:8|
|Lord of lords||Rev. 19:16|
|LORD [YHWH] our Righteousness||Jer. 23:6|
|Man from Heaven||1 Cor. 15:48|
|Mediator of the New Covenant||1 Cor. 15:48|
|Messiah||1 Cor. 15:48|
|Mighty God||1 Cor. 15:48|
|Morning Star||Rev. 22:16|
|Offspring of David||Rev. 22:16|
|Only Begotten Son of God||Rev. 22:16|
|Our Great God and Savior||Rev. 22:16|
|Our Holiness||Rev. 22:16|
|Our Husband||2 Cor. 11:2|
|Our Protection||2 Cor. 11:2|
|Our Redemption||1 Corinthians 1:30|
|Our Righteousness||1 Corinthians 1:30|
|Our Sacrificed Passover Lamb||1 Corinthians 5:7|
|Power of God||1 Corinthians 5:7|
|Precious Cornerstone||1 Peter 2:6|
|Prince of Peace||Isaiah 9:6|
|Prince of the Kings of the Earth||Revelations 1:5|
|Resurrection and Life||John 11:25|
|Righteous Branch||Jeremiah 23:5|
|Righteous One||Acts 7:52; 1 John 2:1|
|Rock||1 Corinthians 10:4|
|Root of David||Revelations 5:5; 22:16|
|Ruler of God’s Creation||Revelations 3:14|
|Ruler of the Kings of the Earth||Revelations 1:5|
|Same, Yesterday, Today and Forever||Hebrews 13:8|
|Savior||Eph. 5:23; Titus 1:4; 3:6; 2 Peter 2:20|
|Son of David||Luke 18:39|
|Son of God||John 1:49; Hebrews 4:14|
|Son of Man||Matthew 8:20|
|Son of the Most High God||Luke 1:32|
|Source of Eternal Salvation for all who obey him||Hebrew 5:9|
|The One Mediator||1 Timothy 2:5|
|The Stone the builders rejected||Acts 4:11|
|True Bread||John 6:32|
|True Light||John 1:9|
|True Vine||John 15:1|
|Truth||John 1:14; 14:6|
|Wisdom of God||1 Corinthians 1:24|
|Wonderful Counsellor||Isaiah 9:6|
|Word of God||Revelations 19:13|
Is there anyone who has not been abused, beaten, bullied, derided, violated, degraded, humiliated, hurt, rejected, marginalised, excluded, dismissed, devalued, undermined, tormented, cheated, conned, taken advantage of, coerced, made to do things they didn’t want to do, or felt powerless, or hopeless, worthless, alienated, or despised? Why is this?
2 Tim 3:3-5 of the Authorised King James Bible says: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”
It’s pretty strange how it worked out this way:
Q: What is the shortest chapter in the Bible?
A: Psalm 117.
Q: What is the longest chapter in the Bible?
A: Psalm 119.
Q: What chapter is in the center of the Bible?
A: Psalm 118.
There are 594 chapters before Psalm 118.
There are 594 chapters after Psalm 118.
Add these numbers up and you get 1188.
Q: What is the center verse in the Bible?
A: Psalm 118:8
Does this verse say something significant about God’s perfect will for our lives?
The next time someone says they would like to find God’s perfect will for their lives and that they want to be in the center of His will, just send them to the center of His Word!
“IT IS BETTER TO TRUST IN THE LORD THAN TO PUT CONFIDENCE IN MAN.” (Psalm 118:8)
Now isn’t that odd how this worked out… or was God in the center of it?