Naming Names

Read Psalm 83

Featured Verse: Psalm 83:16

“Cover their faces with shame so that men will seek your name, O LORD.”

“May my enemies know the fiery terror of your judgment; make them to know the tempest of your storm.” (Psalm 83:14-15) “Make Edom, the Ishmaelites, the Hagrites, Gebal, Ammon, Amalek, Philistia, Tyre and Assyria like refuse on the ground.” (Psalm 83:6-8, 10) “Make them nothing more than a tumbleweed tumbling along.” (Psalm 83:13) “Make them pay, Lord!”

Have you ever prayed like that? That’s called an imprecatory prayer—to call down Divine judgment on another. Have you ever gone before the Lord and named names, calling down the fire and the fury of heaven upon the heads of your enemies? Have you ever got that brutally honest with God?

I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, unless it’s called for. If you are doing that a lot, it may reveal more about the condition of your heart than the people with whom you are upset. If your praying is chronically caustic, perhaps you need to do a little soul work, asking God to do some healing heart surgery on you, teaching you how to truly forgive your enemies—to even pray for them, as Jesus taught—and to patiently put judgment in his just hand.

Yet there is a time where it is appropriate for you to get good and angry—not just good, and not just angry, but good and angry! Now the question is, when is that appropriate time? I don’t think I can give you a sure fire answer for every situation, but there is a clue here within this psalm that seems to echo other times in Scripture where good anger was called for. It is when the people who are upsetting you are upsetting you because they are hindering God’s plan, hurting God’s people, or plotting the destruction of both. Psalm 83:3 says,

“With cunning they conspire against your people;
they plot against those you cherish.”

So that’s it—that is when you get good and angry. It’s not when someone cuts you off in traffic, or takes your seat in church, or pulls out fifteen coupons in the “15 Items Or Less” check-out line when you are in a hurry. It’s when their motive, conscious or subconscious, is to destroy the work of God. That’s when it is appropriate to pray like the psalmist.

But here’s another clue that will keep you good when you are angry: Don’t just pray for their ruination, pray for their redemption. Remember, at one time, you, too, were far from God and thus the object of another’s imprecatory prayers.  And if an imprecatory prayer is called for, then at the very least, pray that the Divine punishment brought down upon their heads will serve as a witness to the glory of God’s great name (Psalm 83:16).

So if you can manage, with purity of heart, to include those two clues in your prayers, then go ahead, name names!

“I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.”
—Thomas Jefferson

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