The gap between the New Testament and the Imprecatory Psalms is less than we think. When faced with prayers against enemies in the Psalms, we are too quick to assume that these Old Testament authors were ignorant of some basic New Testament ethics. They are self-righteous, thinking they have earned God’s favor. They don’t know that the wicked can repent and be forgiven. They believe in vengeance and hating their enemies. We assume wrongly. These prayers are far more aware than many modern churchgoers of how deeply our own sin runs, so that even when persecuted, we are not automatically entitled to divine help. Even when we are truly entitled to justice against unrighteous attackers, if God rescues us, that is unmerited grace. Further, the psalms are fully aware that their enemies can repent, and they show mercy to them. The Book of Psalms teaches its readers–individuals and the whole people of God–to desire the repentance, forgiveness, and divine blessing of all nations, even the people’s most vicious enemies.
The following recordings were given for the European Leadership Forum on Steffen Jenkins’ new book Imprecations in the Psalms: Love for Enemies in Hard Places.