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Psalm 83 is what is called an imprecatory Psalm. Imprecation is just a fancy word for cursing. In the dozen or so Psalms which fall into this category, the author is calling upon God to curse his enemies, or those of Israel as God’s people.
Some are confused by this and wonder how it fits into the prayer life of those now in Christ and living under the New Covenant. And there several things to keep in mind which I hope will burn the fog off any concerns you might have.
We need to remember first that Christians have 3 enemies: The World, the Flesh and the Devil. So it is praying against the World, the World system; the invasion of secularism in all of its forms and its attempt to silence and/or obliterate the testimony of Christ in the earth is more than legitimate.
Praying that false belief systems found in cults and false religions come apart at the seams under the judgment of God is valid as well.
Calling upon God to curse every effort of the Devil to tempt and oppose God’s people and mission. To destroy his power to blind people from the truth of the Gospel.
And, praying against our own inward sinfulness must head the list of praying down God’s curses against our enemies.
Secondly, we remember that ancient Israel serves as a type and shadow of the Church. So while the New Testament is clear our struggle is not against flesh and blood – human enemies – it is no less real. And so praying against whatever or whoever attacks the Church as the Church, or the truth we are commissioned to guard and proclaim – is legitimate as well.
But here we have to note something vital if we should pray such prayers rightly: Note how the Psalmist is not asking to take vengeance himself, but is placing that in the Lord’s hands. He is doing his battle in prayer.
Know your enemy, but bring their disposition to the Lord. He’ll never act wrongly. We can safely off-load our grief, consternation, anger and desire to Him in prayer, knowing He’ll only do what is good and just and best. And we LEAVE IT there.
Lastly, while there may still be some mystery regarding exactly how to handle these kinds of Psalms and prayers we get some great light on it in vss. 16-18.
With all of the destruction which the Psalmist seeks God to rain down on Israel’s enemies, the prayer is not simply about destroying their foes. Yes, he desires their enemies fail and be defeated and their faces filled with shame – but to what end? “That they may seek your name, O Lord.” The desire is not mere relief from attack, nor the wanton destruction of others. It is the crushing of their sinfulness, by subduing them to God.
This is how we are to pray against our enemies, the enemies of the Gospel, or our personal enemies. That their words, tactics, and wicked actions would be ruthlessly and utterly overthrown – but not that alone – That they might become our brothers and sisters in Christ. That they too would seek the glory of our Savior’s name. That, is real victory!
Bring your enemies to your God to deal with. Pray for the destruction of their efforts – AND, for the salvation of their souls.
That beloved is part of true spiritual warfare.
Let that sink into your soul today.
God bless. And God willing, we’ll be back tomorrow.