Depending on your news source, you may have heard about the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territory of Gaza and the recent bombing of a building housing international media outlets. Or you may have heard about the indiscriminate launching of hundreds of rockets toward Israel’s two largest cities, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Two very different news stories, huh?
The real story is that for years, Israel — a sovereign nation, just slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey — has sought to live in peace with its Arab neighbors. Israel has given land to Arabs in an effort to establish a Palestinian state. Despite Israel’s generosity, the Palestinian terror group Hamas has launched attacks against the Jewish people over the course of many years. Hamas’ 1988 charter calls for the annihilation of the Jewish state. After hundreds of missile attacks this week, Israel has responded with airstrikes to take out Hamas headquarters, missile launchers, and underground tunnels used for storage and transportation of Iranian-provided weapons.
“Hamas targets civilians deliberately. It fired up till now 2300+ rockets at Israeli cities, aiming to kill thousands of Israelis. At the same time, it hides behind Palestinian civilians and used them as human shields,” Ofir Gendelman tweeted. “That’s a double war crime.” Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system has blocked about 90% of Hamas’ rockets.
So how does this relate to imprecatory prayers in today’s Bible readings?
Most of you reading this post don’t have enemies. No one wants to kill you. No one wants to destroy your country, your livelihood, and no one hates your very existence. But the people of Israel live with threats on their lives every single day. David had enemies. The people under his reign were threatened by their enemies, not unlike today’s Israelis.
So David penned these imprecatory prayers. He knows that the Jewish people are being attacked without cause. (Psalm 109:3) He prays not only for victory over his enemies. He also prays that his enemies are obliterated, their wives would be left as widows, and their children are left as orphans. (Psalm 109:8-11) He prays that God would hold them guilty and not be merciful to them. (Psalm 109:7, 15)
Paul tells us that not all Israel is Israel. (Romans 9:6–8) He knows that some of the people of Israel are simply Israelites because of their physical lineage. But he knows that they are still involved with an eternal covenant with God, He prays for their salvation. (Romans 10:1)
So where does that leave us? We should pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6–8) We should follow Paul’s instructions to pray that the Jewish people will see past their physical lineage and be saved through faith in Jesus Christ. And we should pray imprecatory prayers for the destruction of Israel’s enemies.
Finally, we should realize that although we may not have physical enemies, Believers have a spiritual enemy. We should wage warfare with our weapons of mass destruction and not be friendly with our enemy. And we should pray imprecatory prayers against our spiritual enemy.
* Chapters covered in today’s reading: