The psalms are the church’s prayer book. Many of the psalms are laments and many of them are worshipful and full of praise. But then there are the imprecatory (pronounced im-PRECK-a-tory)psalms. To imprecate means to invoke evil upon someone; it is to pronounce a curse. The reason for the imprecatory psalm is that it is not any person’s place to engage in revenge or retaliation. Instead, for people who are genuinely caught in the crosshairs of evil and have sinful persons dogging them, prayer is their most effective recourse.
“Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me…. Let them be put to shame and dishonor who seek after my life!” David was a man whose prayers and life were aligned together. He did not raise his hand to do away with Saul, who was trying to kill him. Although David had at least two solid opportunities to kill Saul and be done with the guy seeking his life, he did not do it; he was not about to take matters into his own hands. Instead, David understood that it was God’s business to mete out wrath and punishment.
We need not be shy about being real with God, even with praying imprecatory prayers. There really are people in this world, maybe even in your own life, that actually have an evil agenda against you. Our job is not personal revenge, but to entrust ourselves to the God who fights for the poor, the oppressed, and the needy against the arrogant and the powerful. Let your prayers reflect your life.
Mighty God, let those who speak and act against me contend with you. Let your arrows pierce their hearts so that the needy will not be crushed, but will flourish and thrive under your divine care, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.