O Lord, oppose those who oppose me. Fight those who fight against me. … Make their path dark and slippery, with the angel of the Lord pursuing them. [Psalm 35:1,6 (NLT)

Let death stalk my enemies; let the grave swallow them alive, for evil makes its home within them. [Psalm 55:15 (NLT)]

great blue heronA few nights ago, I had some unwelcome visitors—worry and anger—and they wouldn’t let me sleep. I responded to their visit with prayer and yet it seemed God had closed His office for the night. We’d just received an accusatory and demanding “do this or else” letter from an attorney and my prayers had been as accusing and vindictive as was the letter. No wonder God turned a deaf ear to them.

Throughout much of King David’s life, he was beset by enemies: Philistines, Babylonians, Moabites, Ammonites, King Saul, and even his own son Absalom. As a result, many of his Psalms include what are known as imprecatory prayers in which he asks God to punish and destroy his enemies, sometimes in quite horrible ways. Although David was asking God to settle the matter of evil, I find it hard to reconcile his words with Christianity’s love, forgiveness, meekness and peace. As Christians, no matter how much we dislike someone or how malicious or nasty he (or she) happens to be, we are never to curse them or wish evil upon anyone. In fact, Jesus tells us to do the exact opposite—we are to love, pray for and bless those who curse us. Moreover, we are to submit to God’s sovereignty and pray that His (not our) will be done. The only way to be at peace with God is to be at peace with his children.

I’ve encountered opposition several times, but having flesh and blood adversaries or enemies is new to me. Our integrity has never been questioned before this and I was wounded, confused and irate. I knew I had to pray for our legal enemies and, while I didn’t curse them with imprecatory prayer, I certainly wasn’t blessing them either. As I prayed that they would be reasonable, see the light, change their minds, concede the error of their ways, and go away quietly, I was really praying about me, not for them. Again, it seemed that God was deaf to my pleas. It took me awhile before I understood that my real enemy wasn’t human; he was right there in my mind, tormenting me with outraged, vengeful and worrisome thoughts. It was not until I stopped thinking of these people as foes and started to pray blessings for them that I felt God again open His door to me and my prayers. As I prayed for them, for their health and happiness and even their prosperity, my anger subsided and my worry disappeared.

While I think we’ve acted honorably and been honest and forthright, I’m sure the other party is as sure they’re justified in their accusations and demands. In actuality, the truth probably lies somewhere in between. I’ll leave it to the lawyers and God to figure out a sensible and peaceful solution. I’ve already lost one night’s sleep over this; I’m not about to lose my soul, as well. As for me, I’m going to love, forgive and pray blessings for my enemy and, if need be, even turn the other cheek.

Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. … Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. [Romans 12:14,17-19a (NLT)]

But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. [Luke 6:27-31 (NLT)]

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