From the Preacher’s Pen… You have probably noticed that God says some things that are hard. Let’s take a brief look at one of those hard sayings of the Bible and see just what God is talking about:
“Destroy Them, O God”
Many of the Psalms ~the songs of God’s people ~ contain “imprecations.” These are prayers that call for God to bring His promised curses on those who willingly do evil, especially toward God and His chosen people. A good example, and the first occurrence in the Psalms, is Psalm 5:10, Hold them guilty [the KJV says, Destroy them, but more about that in a moment], O God; By their own devices let them fall! In the multitude of their transgressions thrust them out, For they are rebellious against You.
The word “imprecation” is today more used by the media to describe someone’s hatred of a political figure. In reality, it is an old term for a spoken curse, especially of someone. And it is an important term in studying God’s word!
Why? While there are those imprecatory Psalms (some 20 of them) that sometimes startle people, the fact is that imprecations, curses from God, are an important part of the Bible, God’s word to us. You might recall that God, through Moses demanded that the Israelites stand before Him on the Mount of Blessing and the Mount of Cursing in order to hear not only the promises of God’s blessings for obedience but also His curses for disobedience (cf. Deuteronomy 11:29).
The prophets, especially Hosea, Micah, and Jeremiah, would frequently remind God’s people of the curses that awaited them for disobedience. In the New Testament Jesus (cf. Matthew 23), Paul (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:22; Galatians 1:8-9; 5:12; 2 Timothy 4:14) and even the martyrs before the throne of God (Revelation 6:10) pronounce or request imprecations of God.
We have to remember that the God of love and mercy is also the God of justice and all that is right. He explained it to Moses like this: The Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished (Exodus 34:6-7).
God ~ to BE God who is just and fair ~ must judge sin and especially the sin of rebellion, rejection of God to the point of no return. It is one thing to commit sin when we are overcome by temptation. It is much different to deliberately reject God and rebel against Him.
So, let’s return to Psalm 5:10 and get a little better appreciation of something that is NOT at all simple human vindictiveness but rather is a part of the will of God.
As we noted above, the King James translates the beginning of Psalm 5:10 as destroy them while most other translations say something about holding them guilty. The Hebrew implies both as it calls on the Lord to declare a guilty verdict and to judge them with an appropriate sentence, in this case, death and destruction. Of course, all of Scripture teaches us that this is exactly the penalty for sin. Those who stand before God as guilty have no hope!
So ultimately, David’s prayer is for God’s will to be done! “God, don’t allow the wicked, the rebellious sinners to even imagine that they are getting away with sin.”
We, like our Heavenly Father Himself, extend the mercy, the forgiveness of God to all who will repent and obey Him. When sinners accept that gift and live in obedience to the Lord, our prayers need to always be with them. But for those who would rebel against God and harm His people and His work here on earth, there remains an imprecation, a curse, a horrible price that they must pay.
Like the Israelites of old, we must choose… blessing or curse. Where will you take your stand?
— Lester P. Bagley
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