That is the cry of the heart you see reflected in such psalms as Psalm Rise up, O Judge of the earth; pay back to the proud what they deserve.
While the desire for God to set things right is valid, Jesus introduced a new attitude to have toward our enemies. Instead, He called His followers to actually pray for their enemies Matthew This was nothing short of revolutionary for his Jewish listeners. In a time when the Jewish religious leaders touted radical vengeance as a virtue, Jesus introduced a whole new way of doing business. He taught that true sons of God are not only concerned for their neighbors, but for their enemies as well.
His willingness to give up his life for a world of people at enmity with their Creator Romans and His resurrection from the dead would make it possible to have a restored and better way of life with others—friend or foe. There are times to take a stand and strongly oppose our enemies like the day Jesus overturned the tables of the moneychangers and drove them out of the temple in Jerusalem Matthew And the writers of the New Testament call us to appeal to civil authorities to enforce laws that are meant to hold evildoers accountable and keep them in check Romans Holding others accountable for their actions and seeking justice, however, are not the same as praying for and pursuing revenge.
The key verse regarding this truth is found in the Old Testament and quoted twice in the New Testament.
Prayer for Justice: Pray This Prayer To Reverse Unjust Situations
In Deuteronomy, God is speaking of the stiff-necked, rebellious, idolatrous Israelites who rejected Him and incurred His wrath with their wickedness.
He promised to avenge Himself upon them in His own timing and according to His own perfect and pure motives. Rather, we are to allow Him to judge rightly and pour out His divine retribution against His enemies as He sees fit. Unlike us, God never takes vengeance from impure motives. His vengeance is for the purpose of punishing those who have offended and rejected Him.
We can, however, pray for God to avenge Himself in perfection and holiness against His enemies and to avenge those who are oppressed by evil. In Psalmthe psalmist prays for God to avenge the righteous, not out of a sense of uncontrolled vindictiveness, but out of just retribution from the eternal Judge whose judgments are perfect.
Even when the innocent suffer and the wicked appear to prosper, it is for God alone to punish. There are only two times in the Bible when God gives men permission to avenge in His name.
Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare. But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
The one who takes the life of an animal shall make it good, life for life.
If a man injures his neighbor, just as he has done, so it shall be done to him: read more. Thus the one who kills an animal shall make it good, but the one who kills a man shall be put to death. The judges shall investigate thoroughly, and if the witness is a false witness and he has accused his brother falsely, then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother.
Thus you shall purge the evil from among you. The rest will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you. Thus you shall not show pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.
Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either.
Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?
For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.
If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.
See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered. Is not her younger sister more beautiful than she? Please let her be yours instead.
Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took torches, and turned the foxes tail to tail and put one torch in the middle between two tails. When he had set fire to the torches, he released the foxes into the standing grain of the Philistines, thus burning up both the shocks and the standing grain, along with the vineyards and groves. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.
But passing through their midst, He went His way. Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded? But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated.That God would destroy them and wipe them off the face of the earth.
Nevertheless these kinds of prayers are recorded in the Bible and especially in the Book of Psalms. You may not have given much thought to this kind of prayer before, and I hope that you never need to.
Before the war started in Ukraine I also had not thought very much about the place of imprecatory prayers in my own life and in my theology.Prayer for GOD to Arise and Avenge me of my Enemies - Owolabi Onaola
War, however, has a way of shaping your thinking and calling into question certain ideas. Jesus quoted from at least two imprecatory psalms; Psa 35 and 69 Joh and Psa 22 Let their own table before them become a snare; and when they are at peace, let it become a trap.
For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Others claim that Jesus revoked this type of prayer when he told us to love our enemies in Matthew chapter 5. Neither Jesus nor any of the other New Testament writers specifically correct the imprecatory prayers of the Old Testament.
In fact there are some New Testament texts that also seem to be imprecatory in nature. On the other hand if we look carefully at the imprecatory Psalms we find a much different situation. They were written by a king, the leader of a nation, a general of an army. The imprecatory prayers also focus their attention on how evil men have offended a holy God. Thus they call for judgment not simply because these men have killed the innocent but because they have offended the Holy. Here are some principles that I see in the imprecatory prayers that may help you decide if you should pray for the destruction of your enemies or not.
While the offence takes on a personal nature this is simply because the author is the representative of an entire nation. Rouse yourself to punish all the nations; spare none of those who treacherously plot evil. Psa Instead of personal revenge imprecatory prayers are about just retribution against an evil enemy who has come against another nation and against God.
A common theme you can see in the imprecatory prayers is that of stopping evil short so that it can not continue destroying the lives of the innocent. These prayers are directed at evil men who have the power to take thousands or even millions of lives. May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD, and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out! Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth!
For he did not remember to show kindness, but pursued the poor and needy and the brokenhearted, to put them to death. Unfortunately no one suffers more in war than the innocent. Above all the imprecatory prayers show a desire to see God honored and glorified. God is called upon to bring justice against men who do not honor him or worship Him. I believe the imprecatory prayers were the right thing at that time in that situation for those who prayed them, thus they are righteous and inspired prayers.
On the other hand I cannot tell you whether or not you should ever pray an imprecatory prayer. My suspicion is that few of us will have the exact circumstances that David had when he prayed these prayers. Nevertheless, imprecatory prayers serve to remind us of two things. First they remind us of the awfulness and terribleness of sin.
The reminder us that sin always brings destruction and death, that sin always against God, and that it is often the innocent who suffer because of sin. They remind us that sin causes all of war. We underestimate sin, we underestimate the consequences of evil, we underestimate its power to destroy, and we underestimate how much is offends our holy God!
Second he reminds us of our responsibility to honor God in all circumstances. In individualistic Western cultures is easy to focus only on your personal responsibility to honor God, yet we all live in nations cities societies families who are also called to honor God. Our desire to bring God glory should be set so deep within our hearts that when we see that someone not honoring God it bothers us!Jesus brought a deeper spiritual principle to bear upon the attitude of people towards revenge and retribution.
First, He said that a person should turn the other cheek when someone strikes him. Second, He declared that His followers should give those who sue them more than they are asking.
Third, He said that a person who is conscripted by a Roman officer to carry a load for one mile should offer to go two. Does this mean that we cannot resist when somebody attacks us? Should we let everyone take advantage of us?
After all, Jesus denounced the Pharisees who attacked Him Matthew 23 and objected when He was struck by one of the officers of the high priest John Similarly, the apostle Paul aggressively defended himself against his enemies on occasion Actsasserting his rights as a Roman citizen and making it clear to his attackers that there could be consequences if he were unlawfully harmed Acts What Jesus asks of His followers is not passivity but surrender of the right to personal revenge.
His three radical examples make His point about the attitude we should have toward those who wrong us. Rather than getting even, we should be willing to go to the opposite extreme. We need to be ready to humble ourselves for the kingdom of God. The natural human tendency has been to seek the emotional satisfaction of revenge for perceived injury Genesis Our instinctive response to any kind of injury is hatred and desire for vengeance.
Consequently, the Old Testament Law placed limitations on vengeance Exodus If an eye were put out, only an eye could be taken; if a tooth, only a tooth.
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More on the NIV. Viewing of. Cancel Save. Print Twitter Facebook Email. Click the button below to continue. Close this window. Learn more today!O Lord, God of vengeance, O God of vengeance, shine forth! Rise up, O judge of the earth; repay to the proud what they deserve!
First, let it be said that vengeance belongs to God and not to men. It is not our place to exact vengeance, for ultimately, all sin and wickedness is, first and foremost, an offense against God, not us. David understood this when he wrote of his own sins of adultery, murder, and coverup.
This is not to excuse our offense against our fellow-man, but to make the point that sin is primarily an offense against God. Writing in the late 15 century, Jacopo Sadoleto said:. The vengeance of God is for the most part a medicine for the evil; but ours is at times destruction even to the good. His point is that our vengeance takes the form of physical retribution alone, for we are unable to grasp the soul and spirit of the wicked.
A Powerful Prayer for Your Enemies
God, on the other hand, can inflict vengeance properly on those who deserve it. Further, while our vengeance does violence to the body of our enemy, at the same time, it also does violence to our own spirit, as impatience, bitterness, and destruction take root in our soul.
God alone knows rightly the spirit of the offender, and therefore he alone knows rightly how, and to what measure, to avenge, and ultimately for good, as medicine intended to bring the wicked to repentance. So, if we are to pray for God to exact vengeance on the wicked, we must check our heart carefully.
What cause do we have for such a prayer for vengeance? Only love for God and our neighbor. When innocence is trampled down and wickedness is exalted, who would argue against the execution of justice as the right thing? If it is right, then it is a proper thing to desire it, not for the sake of private revenge, but out of love for God, who is a God of justice and truth, and out of concern for others who suffer wrongly under injustice. Our prayer should be for God, the judge of the earth, to execute justice, to defend the defenseless, to right wrong, and put an end to oppression.
At the same time, our appeal to the wicked should be to recognize their wrong, repent, and trust God for mercy. Vengeance is mine, says the Lord First, let it be said that vengeance belongs to God and not to men. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, Psalm This is not to excuse our offense against our fellow-man, but to make the point that sin is primarily an offense against God.
Writing in the late 15 century, Jacopo Sadoleto said: The vengeance of God is for the most part a medicine for the evil; but ours is at times destruction even to the good. Our prayer for vengeance So, if we are to pray for God to exact vengeance on the wicked, we must check our heart carefully.
Only then will our prayer for vengeance be pleasing in the sight of the Lord.