Be Encouraged: Praying the Psalms (Part 6)

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“Help me, O Lord my God!
Save me according to your steadfast love!
Let them know that this is your hand; you, O Lord, have done it!
Let them curse, but you will bless!
They arise and are put to shame, but your servant will be glad!
May my accusers be clothed with dishonor;
may they be wrapped in their own shame as in a cloak!”
~ Psalm 109:26-29

The Psalms were written as a book of prayer and songs for those in the Old Testament and for us today.  It is meant to be a resource for us to praise God in the midst of whatever circumstances we may find ourselves in.  However, there are two Psalms that have caused quite a bit of controversy over the years: The Imprecatory Psalms, Psalm 109 and 137.

To imprecate means to curse, bring down, or to invoke cursing on something or someone.  In reading Psalm 109, it’s hard to understand why David speaks the way he does toward others, especially since the teachings of Jesus say to pray for our enemies, to bless those who persecute you, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and that vengeance belongs to the Lord.  Still, this Psalm stands among others as God’s Holy Word, and as a Psalm, to be used in praise and prayer.  What do we do?

If we are going to pray these Psalms, we must understand them in light of Christ and the New Testament.  Context is important, but it’s also important that when we seek to understand a passage, we should seek to view it in light of all of scripture.  First, we must understand that as David prays this prayer, he cannot be thinking of someone in particular.  He is stating these curses to “Him” or “The one who does evil,” specifically “The one who does evil against Him (David), the people of God, or God Himself.”  We are never to pray a prayer against a specific person that is not for their salvation or for their good (The exception to this would be 1 John 5:16…we’ll have to save that for another time).  However, we can still pray for our enemies and pray that wickedness be stopped.  We can pray for those who persecute us while still praying for justice to be done.  We can still bless those who curse us and pray that they be converted.  We may joyfully lay our lives down for Christ and still petition God: “how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:10)

So when we pray this Psalm together, we will pray against evil, yet for those who do evil.  We will pray against injustice, yet for those who commit injustice.  We will pray for the salvation of evildoers, yet pray that God will bring to justice those who perpetrate evil on this earth. 

Join me as I pray:

God, we come to you today praising you for your goodness.  We remember the words of Christ when he says, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”  Because we hold ourselves to your standard and believe your Words as they are written to us, we are persecuted for our faith.  Even though we love those around us, that love is often returned with accusation. (vv.1-5)

Lord we pray for those who persecute us and who speak mistruths about us.  We pray that those who do not know you would come to know you.  We pray that those who hate you would come to love you.  We pray that there would be peace in our world under the banner of Christ, and that all evil, anything that is contrary to your goodness and righteousness, would cease.  We pray that murder would cease.  We pray that abortion would end.  Father, we pray that hatred and injustice would be done away with.  We pray that you would stop evil at all costs, and all those who choose to commit themselves to evil or evil deeds would be stopped and brought to justice.  We pray for the greedy, that they would give generously.  We pray for those who have been hurt or abused, that they would seek refuge in You and find the hope of salvation under your wings, and that those who hurt them would be brought to justice. (vv.6-20)

We know that justice will only fully prevail when Jesus comes again, so we pray that you would not delay, Jesus.  Come quickly, rescue us from this diseased and wicked world just as you have rescued us from the disease and wickedness of sin, and lead us in the righteousness that is imputed to us by your sacrifice on the cross. (vv.21-25)

We pray, Oh God, that your justice would prevail.  We pray that you would vindicate your church and your people and that you put to shame those who commit shameful acts of evil against others.  Jesus, we pray your salvation even for the most wicked of people, just as you have saved us, wicked people, from our wickedness.  We pray that everyone would know that you are God, and we thank you that one day evil will be done away with.  We are not condemned any longer in Christ, for you have redeemed us and given us the hope of eternal life.  We praise you, mighty God, in all of your righteousness.  In Christ’s name, Amen! (vv.26-31)

I hope the last few weeks have been an encouragement to you in praying the Psalms.  If you have enjoyed this and would like to learn more, please contact me.  I would be happy to point you to some resources that will help you to make this a regular habit in your life.

Be Encouraged!

Pastor Chris <><

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Pastor Chris Ridler

Pastor Chris is married to his beautiful wife Becky and has a precious son named Noah. Chris received his Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern State University and is currently working on his Master’s of Divinity at Reformed Theological Seminary. Chris has served in full time ministry for over 13 years – as either a Youth Pastor, Worship Pastor or House Parent and is passionate about seeing people grow in their walk with Christ and disciple others for the glory of God’s kingdom.

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