Imprecatory psalms are those those psalms that contain curses or prayers for the punishment of the psalmist’s enemies. To imprecate means to invoke evil upon, or curse. Psalms 7, 35, 55, 58, 59, 69, 79, 109, 137 and 139 all contain prayers for God’s judgment on the psalmist’s enemies. Example imprecatory statements from the Psalms follow:
- Psalm 55:15 – Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the grave.
- Psalm 58:6 – O God, break the teeth in their mouths.
- Psalm 69:28 – May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous.
- Psalm 109:9 – May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.
- Psalm 137:9 – How blessed will be the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.
How can we wish prosperity to those who would destroy that which is dearest to our hearts? This present age is so flippant that if a man loves the Saviour he is styled a fanatic, and if he hates the powers of evil he is named a bigot. As for ourselves, despite all objectors, we join heartily in this commination; and would revive in our heart the old practice of Ebal and Gerizim, where those were blessed who bless God, and those were cursed who make themselves a curse to the righteous. We have heard men desire a thousand times that the gallows might be the reward of the assassins who murdered two inoffensive men in Dublin, and we could never censure the wish; for justice ought to he rendered to the evil as well as to the good. Besides, the church of God is so useful, so beautiful, so innocent of harm, so fraught with good, that those who do her wrong are wronging all mankind and deserve to be treated as the enemies of the human race. Study a chapter from the “Book of Martyrs”, and see if you do not feel inclined to read an imprecatory Psalm over Bishop Bonner and Bloody Mary. It may be that some wretched nineteenth century sentimentalist will blame you: if so, read another over him.