Can we ask God to smite our enemies?

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Hey, thanks again for sending in questions related to our recent sermons. This last week we studied Psalm 56. And in that psalm, as well as many other psalms, there’s a line where the psalmist praise curses upon others, cast down these peoples, oh, God, that are attacking me, pursuing me, doing violence to me. Lord, will you rain down fire from heaven? So the question is, can we pray like that?

Should that be part of our lives today? Can we do that? Should we do that? If we do, why should we? Is this somehow not loving of others?

Is this in contradiction to the many other commands that God gives us? The short answer is yes, we can pray that way. It’s part of God’s word in the psalms that teaches us how to pray, and we can pray that way. It’s actually in line with, of course, all the rest of Scripture. But where God says, vengeance is mine, says the Lord, we’re handing it off to him.

We’re letting it him be his prerogative. We’re taking our hands off the wheel of vengeance and letting it go to him, trusting that he knows what is best. And we are therefore not taking vengeance ourselves. Ironically, or maybe surprisingly, Mirslav Volv, who’s a theologian who lives in this country now, but he’s originally from war torn Croatia, Yugoslavia, and he know, going through that terrible conflict there, he said this in his book, exclusion or inclusion and Embrace, that really the only way to stop cycles of violence between warring peoples, peoples who really hate each other and just want to destroy.

And when one destroys, it gives the other one justification to destroy the other.

And then that one says, oh, because you did this to me, I’m going to go do this to you. These cycles of violence back and forth. He says, the way to stop that is actually believing in a wrathful God, in a vengeful God, in a God who cares about justice and will punish wickedness and handing off the responsibility of vengeance and justice to him, he says, that’s what will actually stop the cycles of violence. And he’s seen it happen in his life, in his own country. He says, if you think that there isn’t a God that will go do that, then he says, it’s up to you then to go attack the person again or the country again.

He says, but if you can hand it off to a God who you trust will do the right thing, then you no longer have to engage in the violence yourself. And he says, that is what will stop the violence is handing it off to a God who knows what’s best and right and good and fair and just. And so, yeah, absolutely pray for God to do what is right and just. And for him, if vengeance is his and he decides it’s right to take it, he can take it. Then it’s out of your hands.

And by praying that way, it will actually make you more of a peaceful person. So thanks for sending in the question. We hope that’s helpful in that you can hand off the responsibility for justice into God’s hands. Bye.