Bible Insights

Should We Pray Against Our Enemies or Pray for Them?

Some Psalms Ask God to Punish Our Enemies and Those Who Do Evil

Many people enjoy reading the Psalms. They appreciate the poetic nature of its words. They find encouragement to persevere and inspiration to strengthen their faith. Many Psalms also lead us into our worship of God. These are some of the best.

However, other Psalms carry a negative focus. These Psalms request that God punish people for the wrong things they have done to him, society, and to us. This presents a challenge to my view of God and my theology of faith.

Is it okay for us to ask God to favor us, while we beg him to hurt our enemies? After all, Jesus tells us to love our enemies, do good to them, and pray for them (Luke 6:27-28).

Yet David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22), does just the opposite. He asks God to vindicate him by destroying his enemies.

David’s Prayer of Retribution

Consider some of the key points from David’s petition of retaliation in Psalms 109:6-15:

  • Send someone to fight my enemy.
  • Find him guilty.
  • Let his prayers condemn him.
  • Cut his life short so that his children become orphans and his wife, a widow.
  • Make his children homeless and beg for food.
  • Have his creditors repossess everything he owns.
  • Don’t let anyone be nice to him or pity his poor, orphaned kids.
  • Let his family line die out.
  • Hold him accountable for all the sins of his ancestors.
  • Don’t forgive him for the wrong things he’s done.

Wow! That’s quite a prayer. It’s one that I would never dare say. Yet, I must admit, there are times I wish God would do bad things to bad people.

Though the Old Testament of the Bible records David’s harsh, revengeful prayer against his oppressors, we must remember Jesus’s command to love our enemies and pray for those who hate us (Luke 6:27-28).

Both of these appear in the Bible, and it’s left to us to determine which one should guide our prayers. May we choose wisely.

[Read through the Bible this year. Today’s reading is Psalms 106-109, and today’s post is on Psalms 109:6-15.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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