Imprecatory psalms – Are we allowed to curse today?

INTRODUCTION. In my last post (#502 on March 14), I continued to consider the imprecatory psalms. We defined what we meant by “imprecatory,” especially in terms of how these verses function in their contexts. Then we looked in-depth at Psalm 69, one of the best examples of an imprecatory psalm, and examined the psalm’s context and the content of the imprecation in the psalm. Finally, we looked at how the believer can apply the psalm, how he/she can use this psalm in their own life.

In this post, I am delaying further exegesis of the imprecatory psalms until we have wrestled with the critical question of reconciling the New Testament’s consistent teaching to love our enemies with this Old Testament idea of asking the LORD to curse and destroy our enemies. The critical question we need to answer is, “In the New Testament era, are we allowed to call down curses on our enemies?”


As we know, the central event in human history is the first advent of Jesus Christ. With the Incarnation when God became Man, everything changed, and so it follows that the disciple’s view of the imprecation of enemies (that is, the calling on the Lord to curse his enemies) could also have changed. In the first two posts of this series on the Imprecatory passages in the psalms, I have been examining them in their Old Testament context without adequately considering what the New Testament has to say on the topic. Wanting to find biblical justification for the imprecation of certain evil men who are right now responsible for horrific wickedness, I limited my search of the Scriptures to the imprecatory psalms. By doing this, I unintentionally neglected the Bible’s full message.


But now is the time to correct that mistake and examine this topic of the imprecation of enemies through a New Testament lens. For we now live after the first advent of the Son of God. Our age is a New Testament age, and before we call upon the Lord to curse our enemies and punish the wicked, we need to be sure that we are still permitted to do so. That is, before we imprecate, we must examine the Scriptures to determine if the Lord allows us to imprecate. For if we curse when the Lord has not commanded us to curse or even allowed us to curse, then are we not being disobedient? So, this study is serious.

Thus, our study of the imprecatory verses in the Old Testament psalms is taking a significant turn, for now we will be looking for permission and example in the New Testament. This New Testament study will have three parts. First, I will be examining the gospels (and other Bible passages that obviously speak of Jesus, like Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22) to see how Jesus responded when He was threatened by His enemies. Do His words and actions give us a clear precedent for calling down curses on our enemies? Next, I will go through the book of Acts to see how the apostolic church responded to enemies and threats. Did the fledgling church call out to God to destroy their enemies and defend them from threats? In the final part of our study, I will survey the teaching of the epistles and of the book of Revelation to determine what they reveal about our freedom to call on God to punish our enemies and avenge us on the wicked. What we discover in this threefold study will determine what we do with these imprecatory passages in the Old Testament psalms.

The next post in this series will examine the ministry of Jesus during His first advent to determine whether our Lord called curses down on His enemies. What was Jesus’ attitude toward the idea of cursing His enemies in this life? That will be the subject of our next post.

SDG                 rmb                 3/16/2022                   #503

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