Essay Example on The imprecatory Psalms should be useful in shaping how Christians Pray

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The imprecatory Psalms should be useful in shaping how Christians pray today The primary purpose of the Psalms was to worship God through prayers reflections petitions and songs While it may not appear so at first glance the Psalms are poetry Moreover they are poems that are meant to be sung In Reflections on the Psalms C S Lewis emphasized the importance of studying the Psalms as poetry with its unique forms and characteristics He wrote What must be said is that the Psalms are poems and poems intended to be sung not doctrinal treatises nor even sermons Most emphatically the Psalms must be read as poems as lyrics with all the licenses and all the formalities the hyperboles the emotional rather than logical connections which are proper to lyric poetry They must be read as poems if they are to be understood no less than French must be read as French or English as English Otherwise we shall miss what is in them and think we see what is not Unlike prose poetry uses vibrant phrasing to convey more than a simple idea In Sound and Sense An Introduction to Poetry Perrine states that poetry might be defined as a kind of language that says more and says it more intensely than does ordinary language In short poetry not only communicates information but also shares emotion and experience 



Thus to understand the Psalms it helps to also understand their authors and the context in which they were written Most of the Psalms were written during the time of David and Solomon with 75 of 150 being attributed to David and the others being attributed to Asaph Moses Solomon the sons of Korah and many anonymous authors David suffered a life a turmoil political unrest betrayal personal failures and great triumphs These events color the Psalms with lamentations petitions and praises Within this context a subset of Psalms has emerged with distinctive characteristics known as imprecatory Psalms Imprecation means to curse thus these Psalms are known for invoking judgment calamity or curses upon one s enemies or those perceived as the enemies of God Examples of these Psalms include Psalms 35 36 39 71 109 and several others Psalm 35 uses language such as Let destruction come upon him unexpectedly And let his net that he has hidden catch himself Into that very destruction let him fall This type of imagery causes some to question if these prayers are born out of human desire for vengeance or are truly inspired by the Holy Spirit The argument made by those who do not believe in the usefulness of imprecatory Psalms is that these born out of the frailty of man and run contrary to the commands of Christ to in Matthew 5 44 that state But I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you In the Bible Handbook Henry Halley discusses imprecatory Psalms as such These psalms breathe vengeance upon enemies They are not God s pronouncements of his wrath upon the wicked but they are the prayers of a man for vengeance upon his enemies 



This is just the opposite of the teachings of Jesus Christ who taught that we should love our enemies and pray for them that despitefully use us and persecute us Believing these Psalms come from a malicious heart and that a selfish motivation drives the thirst for punishment to befall one s enemies holders of this view fear that praying imprecatory Psalms provides an excuse for avoiding the hard tasks of love and forgiveness of those who have wronged you The unspoken assumption is that Christ is exercising a new directive in the New Testament that supersedes the ways of the Old Testament On the other hand those who believe the imprecatory Psalms have value for instructing the Christian s prayer life believe 2 Timothy 3 16 17 which states All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching for reproof for correction and for training in righteousness that the man of God may be complete equipped for every good work Scripture itself validates every part of itself Moreover when viewed as poetry and not as literal curses the imprecatory Psalms are a colorful outcry against evil or those who would oppose God and a plea for God to exercise His judgement Rather than professing a vengeful curse these Psalms yield to the will of God and recognize His sovereign authority to exact judgement Andrew Bonar a minister of the Free Church of Scotland in the 1800s said this regarding the imprecatory Psalms and Psalm 35 in particular Throughout the endless day of eternity the Lord Jesus shall himself speak the Father s praise and shall put marked emphasis on his righteousness that righteousness which shall have been exhibited both in the doom of those who hated the offered Redeemer and in the salvation of those who received him There is nothing in all this wherein his own may not fully join especially on that day when their views of justice shall be far clearer and fuller than now On that day we shall be able to understand how Samuel could hew Agag in pieces and the godly hosts of Israel slay utterly in Canaan man and woman and child at God's command We shall be able not only fully agree in the doom Let them be confounded etc but even to sing Amen Hallelujah over the smoke of torment The point Bonar makes in his statement is that when we become fully righteous we will become so attuned to the God's justice that we too may celebrate the utter annihilation of unrepentant sin In the Psalms that David writes it is with this same attitude that he records his verse On behalf of God he is so offended by the rebellion against God or the willingness to sin that he desires God's promised judgement to remedy the offense


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