Theme: Imprecations on the Wicked
In this week’s lessons, we learn about God’s triumph for his people over persecutions.
Scripture: Psalm 129:1-8
What should we pray for in regard to those who persist in evil? That they should repent and be converted, of course. But if they do not? Surely we are not to pray that they might prosper! 
Charles Spurgeon is excellent at this point. Here is what he says:
If this be an imprecation, let it stand; for our heart says “Amen” to it. It is but justice that those who hate, harass, and hurt the good should be brought to nought. Those who confound right and wrong ought to be confounded, and those who turn back from God ought to be turned back….How can we wish prosperity to those who would destroy that which is dearest to our hearts? This present age is so flippant that if a man loves the Savior he is styled a fanatic, and if he hates the powers of evil he is named a bigot. As for ourselves, despite all objectors, we… would revive in our heart the old practice of Ebal and Gerizim, where those were blessed who bless God, and those were cursed who make themselves a curse to the righteous…. Study a chapter from the “Book of Martyrs,” and see if you do not feel inclined to read an imprecatory psalm over Bishop Bonner and Bloody Mary. It may be that some wretched nineteenth century sentimentalist will blame you; if so, read another over him.1
And yet, for all this controversy over the imprecatory portions of the psalms, it is striking in this case at least how mild these imprecations are. For the psalmist is not asking that those who have harmed Israel be sent to hell, or even that they experience the same sufferings they have inflicted on others. He asks only that they and their designs might not prosper. There are three negative things he wants them to experience.
1. No honor (v. 5). The honor Israel’s enemies seek is what would come from a military victory, especially if she could be crushed completely. The psalmist asks that they might be turned back, knowing the shame of defeat instead. Shouldn’t we seek that for any who are dishonorable or seek the ruin or overthrow of righteous persons? We should ask that they might be defeated and that their failure might be known. We should ask that their shameful characters might be exposed for what they are. 
2. No success (vv. 6, 7). The psalmist uses a quaint but effective image at this point, asking that Zion’s enemies might be like grass on the rooftop “which withers before it can grow.” In Israel’s day, the houses had dirt roofs where seeds might take root. But the soil was shallow, and there was no provision for watering the roof. Any grass that grew on a roof would wither quickly. 
Even dried grass can be of some use, however. The stubble of a field that has been harvested of grain can be collected and used for fuel. The psalmist does not want the wicked to have even that small measure of success. He wants their plans to shrivel so completely that the reaper will not find enough of their effort even to fill his hands or gather in his arms to carry home. Can it be wrong for us to pray like this, that the efforts of evil persons might come to utter nothing? That they might be so unsuccessful that in the end there might be nothing at all left of their nefarious schemes? Of course not. Is it not rather the case that we err by being too tolerant and accepting of evil, rather than being too firm in our opposition to it? 
3. No blessing (v. 8). The final negative thing the psalmist prays for is that no blessing might be pronounced on such people. It is connected to the harvest image of verse 7, for it was a common practice to bless those who worked in the fields at harvest time. We have an example in Ruth 2:4, where Boaz arrives in his field and blesses the harvesters, saying, “The LORD be with you.” “The LORD bless you,” they call back. Is it wrong to withhold prayers for blessings from evil persons? How could it be? The opposite, to bless evil, would be a betrayal of righteousness and an offense to God. 
And let us think of this also: What has been the end of those who have set themselves against the Lord and his Anointed, the end of those who are, as Derek Kidner writes, “not only choosing the way of hate, which is soul-destroying, but setting themselves against God, which is suicide”?2 The answer is just that: self-destruction and suicide. We think of Pharaoh, and especially in our days of Adolf Hitler, who literally committed suicide in his Berlin bunker at the end of World War 2.
1Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, vol. 3b, Psalms 120-150 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1968), p. 110. 
2Derek Kidner, Psalms 73-150: A Commentary on Books III-V of the Psalms (Leicester, England, and Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1975), p. 445. 
Study Questions: 

How should our prayers be constructed regarding God’s enemies? 
What three things does the psalmist pray for his enemies to experience? 

Prayer: Pray for those who have ridiculed your faith. Ask God to bring them to the point where they realize that they need him.
Key Point: What has been the end of those who have set themselves against the Lord and his Anointed?…self-destruction and suicide.

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