Summary: Every word in the Bible is for us to learn from; and we learn something from the words or actions of every character in it; so what are we to learn from David's psalms or prayers which invoke God's curses on his enemies
Psalm 35 (especially verses 1-9)
David’s ‘Imprecatory Psalms’
We believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God
and everything in it is in it for our good in some way,
so when we read about people and their actions and words,
we are to learn from them,
and either copy them or avoid them as the case may be.
We learn about Thomas doubting, not to doubt;
we learn from deceitful Judas, not to be deceitful.
What then are to we learn from David?
He was once a great sinner, in the case of Uriah and Bathsheba;
from this story we learn not to be a fornicator and cause of an innocent man’s death.
He was also a sinner who repented after humbly receiving Nathan’s message;
from this we learn to open our hearts to the Gospel message and come to God through Christ.
How then are we to understand David’s Imprecatory Psalms?
Psalms 35, 55, 59, 79, 109 and 137 are called the ‘Imprecatory Psalms’,
or the ‘Imprecatory Prayers’, the word ‘imprecatory’ meaning ‘curse’,
because all of these 6 psalms contain David’s prayers or pleas to God;
calling down curses on his or the Lord’s enemies.
In Psalm 35 David appeals to El Shaddai, Almighty God,
as Divine Warrior and Righteous Judge,
and that is what He is, and we believe God is almighty and omnipotent,
and we believe He will use His power to help or defend us;
but we must not forget that God is Sovereign.
He acts according to His will and eternal plans,
not our complaints and moaning, no matter how justified.
In his psalms, David said God is a Divine Warrior
and we believe He does help us by fighting our enemies;
helping us to fight our battles;
but when others suffer loss in some way,
they call out against God, or take as proof that He does not exist.
In many of his psalms David calls God a Righteous Judge
and so He has shown Himself to be in the history of Israel,
and so He will show Himself to be in the ‘End times’
and along with David there must have been times when we have called on Him
to vent His judgment on others,
because there is so much wickedness in the world generally
and in some cases, very close to us;
and many Christians have suffered in the past and are doing so today.
When it comes to blessing and cursing, you could say ‘God started it’.
In Genesis 3 verses 14-19 we learn how as a result of Adam and Eve’s disobedience,
God cursed the serpent who had to cral forever on his belly and eat dust;
cursed women with pains in childbearing;
cursed the ground of the earth,
and cursed mankind with hard work and physical death.
Then, in 1st Kings chapter 9 we read how after Solomon dedicated the Temple in Jerusalem
God promised to bless Solomon and all the kings of Israel after him
if they walked before the Lord in integrity of heart and uprightness,
keeping all of God’s commandments, decrees and laws;
but God also promised to curse Solomon or his sons
if they turned away from Him
and did not observe His commands and decrees,
and served other gods and worshipped them.
So, blessing and cursing are biblical ,
but as human beings and members of a fallen race,
not one of us can claim to be without sin,
so is it right for us – for anyone - to ask God to curse and even kill people,
no matter how sinful and unrepentant they are?
David was a great king, but even he was not 100% upright.
We can read in 2nd Samuel chapter 11
how he abused his kingly position by having the soldier Uriah the Hittite
sent into a dangerous battle situation,
where David knew, or at least hoped, that he would be killed; and he was;
and David was able to get his hands on Uriah’s widow Bathsheba.
So what right did David have to call down curses on others?
What right do WE have to ask God to punish OUR enemies?
In Psalm 35 we read how David prayed that God will come to his defence
and rescue him from those who were once close friends
but who now accuse him, slander him, and condemn him with malice.
It is only right that we should pray similar prayers when we are attacked,
but look at some of the other things David asks God to do:
for example, in Psalm 35 verse 4: ‘let them be put to shame and dishonour’;
verse 5: ‘let them be like chaff before the wind’;
verse 6: ‘let their way be dark and slippery’;