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The Psalms 41, 55, 69 and 109 are sometimes called the imprecatory psalms. They expose haters to their own wares, curses to curse and the merciless to no mercy, WHEN and IF they sustain a hatred for the Messiah which is quintessential, vile and disruptive of good and love.

HE came to bring love and good; such as these who blighted His offering, however,  specialised in betrayal of that love, defamation of that good, removal of that offering, received an inheritance. What was it ? They SO inherited the fruits of their own exclusion of the Lord, thrusting Him aside, who is central, and achieved the results of their betrayal in the unhallowed halls of their self-placement. In placing God, they paced themselves.

It is precisely as in John 3:15-19. God SO loved the world which it was His own desire to save, and not to judge, that He GAVE His only begotten Son, intrusion from eternity into time, from deity into creation, exposure amid man of the sublime, manifestation amid the infernal follies of a besotted race, the supernal wonders of God. While His desire to save the world, the context being GOD, WORLD and GIFT (as in I Timothy 2 and in Colossians 1), is unlimited as shown both by contextual arena, the terms used and moreover the extent of the offering God makes, yet the WAY to this salvation is not unlimited. It is in fact SO limited that it is as near as love, as dear as the innermost sanctuary of the heart, as demanding as it is grand in grace.

It demands that you find and follow the path for it; is that so hard ? (cf. I John 5:3). This path is the very same as the offering God has made in His expression of SUCH LOVE, namely the God-man, Jesus the Christ Himself, send like a despatch from heaven (as in Isaiah 48:15ff.). It is not just a message as from the prophets, this time; for it is the very presence of God in personal form, ready to make peace, secure reconciliation and to grant atonement as in Hosea 13:14, Ezekiel 34, Isaiah 53-55, and that for man, quite freely (II Corinthians 5:17ff.).

Even the highway home is free, but it is not as broad as all that, but rather though as open as any promenade, yet a narrow path in form. It is Himself (John 14:6), and since He is changeless (Psalm 102, James 1:17), so is it (as in Galatians 1). What wants to change it, wants to change Him; and what wants to change Him is in affront and confrontation with Him, so that murder becomes the historical format for it, directed against the Christ, the Messiah, and betrayal the path of those who wish to have the FORM of the thing, but not the FACT (as in II Timothy 3).

Such become a special breed of spiritual gangsters, who assault truth, deride the sacred, make wantonry out of wonder and show no mercy, in the day of Christ,  picking up the bones of their prey like wild beasts or vultures. If they had others do the physical task, theirs were the talons that tore.

The curse which is seen to envelop them in such Psalms as these, is consequential, and the setting is from intimacy violated, friendship abused, closeness made into murderous intimacy, sheer horror thrust out into the midst of love. The result is like a spiritual ricochet of their endeavours, and enveloping them,  becomes their own definition, like rays reflected. Therefore, on them hangs the burden of curse, which by their betrayal and vile violence, they have in mind for Him. How conscious they are of their evils is not the point; it is not the number of self-deceptive devices that is in the heart - and who but the Lord CAN know it (Jeremiah 17:9-10), which matters. It is what lies in the heart and from there evacuating, comes to the hand. It is this, resolute, resultant action which speaks.

Thus the so-called imprecatory psalms are really matters of aborted mercy, vicious assault on goodness and pity, of insidious, invidious gravamen appointing guilt to God,  amidst apparent acceptance. They concern violation of His friendship and in an  extravaganza of misplaced zeal, indeed action to remove Him, even from intimate placement, from their scene. This is the ultimate injustice, levelled shamelessly at the Judge! (cf.  Micah 5:1-3). Those who so act, as here foretold, and the major agent in particular become a scourge to truth, to goodness and an enemy to all peace. The judgment of them in  these  Psalms proceeds accordingly.

There IS no peace outside the Maker (Isaiah 57:19-20); and to act as if to make some piece of manipulable matter out of Him, this is war indeed. It leads in its presumptuous arrogance to its own reward. These Psalms show what this is and why.

Let us look at each of these Psalms in turn and learn.


Psalm 41

From Familiar Friend to Heel

Salvation Suffers All and Hatred Rejects Even This

The friend in familiarity, who even ate his food, becomes the grinding enemy, while the many watch, lurking for his downfall, hoping for his death, seeking that even his name will perish! (41:5).

This must be repaid,  and God Himself delivers him, even in and with integrity intact, this whole horror imparting no inward blight, but an episode in his eternal life, in him who blesses God forever.

These themes are expanded in the later such Psalms. WHY must it be repaid ? Is it merely because in this series you find the very heart of God in gift passion ? seeking at any cost to relay good ? It is indeed partly this as you see more fully in Psalm 69, but it is more, and to this we will look later. When this purity of intent within the goodness of God is treacherously abused, then repayment alas, is the loss of the love which is outfaced, disgraced in its distortion by detractors. When God is the donor, the loss is effectually ruin, and the payment is apt,  appropriate.

As the familiar friend in spiritual company of those who seek the extermination of the body, name and relationship of this victim, of this gift from the goodness of God, actually proceeds to grind his former comrade under the heel, so in every sense he becomes a heel, the wielder of it, his spirit moving from heart to heel, from closeness of company through outrageous dissimulation to diligent divorce from every good relationship. It is when God is the one so treated that repayment, without repentance, becomes not merely mandatory, as token of reality, but inherent. Smashing someone in heart and name and not sparing the body is always a gaunt, grim thing; but it is when it is the Maker who is so treated, that your service for your own soul becomes missing, and you - to use another figure - eat the fruit of your own doings.

This is as in Proverbs 1:21. Having scorned the liberal offer of God, even to give them understanding and enable them in the way, they will "eat the fruit of their own way and be filled to the full with their own fancies."  Why try ? You inherit what you create, and when it is miscreancy, alas, it is like the ugly face which the adventurous young Calvin tried to keep, distorting his countenance, in the comic, Calvin and Hobbes. In this case, however, you receive what you do, and so do not receive the restoration. Such is it always for those who not only misuse their own souls, but meddle remorselessly with God; for there is nothing and no-one beyond (cf. Hebrews 6).

Such themes become more and more conspicuous as we proceed through these Psalms. Reason, righteousness and truth all cohere, and where love, kindness and goodness lie slain, the resurrection itself confirms the power, but does not alter the self-deceit, the impudence of impotence, or the results of the illusions of misplaced power. Man may indeed reject God, at the uttermost; but he cannot reject the results of the rejection. Reality is not twistable.


Psalm 55

From Kindly Companion to Agent of Reproach,
Engineer of What Comes to Mortal Agony

More Focus on the Familiar Friend

First we see the setting as before, and it is in the midst of this evil mist that we find, suddenly clarified, the actual agent whose work epitomised the hatred and secured the result.

Once more, we see the victim, while In wrath, the treacherous trouble him, horror overwhelming him; but God will afflict such assailants. Fearless in sin, they do not change; for their sinful souls are never evacuated from a carnal mould. Born in sin, they prefer it.  Made in a twisted mould, they rejoice in it. Unchanged (55:19), the contrary of John 3, they do not fear God; but of these, one surpasses the rest, one detractor, one betrayer, breaching a sweet peace. With war in his facile heart, his soft words became drawn swords. The result ?

It is this. Let hell receive such as its own! They BELONG in that mode, with that model, and it is their natural home. Indeed, this variable one, this evil persecutor, he has even in so detesting and assailing his friend, "broken the covenant", for the Messiah IS the covenant (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6), and this is no personal atrocity merely; it is profound as well! What then do we learn for our own part ?

Listen! the Psalm seems to say. Take heart, "Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you," (55:22). "I will trust in the Lord."

Thus there is an outcome for us; for just as this victim is in fact a source of judgment BECAUSE rejected, not direct, for His open heart was in their hand, but indirect, since it was assaulted so that its bountiful intent is as if struck with a machete, SO is he also the source of a grand hope. Why is this ? It is based on sound ground:  not only did he escape, but he is Himself the very author of judgment itself, whether to bless or to curse. It involves Him, and it revolves about Him, and it depends not on inscrutable mystery, but on what each one does with Him, who is thus Himself the Lord. He is both the Judge and the judged, the author of creation, its Redeemer for as many as come, and its assessor. It is only when faith receives the assessment of sin which He vicariously took, that life can escape its utter ruin, everlasting shame. What then of the violator himself ?

Hence judgment is commanded (Psalm 55:9-15), and its ground is cited. This time, the penalties are judicial and the denunciation is extended concerning those who prey rather than pray; so then such offence against THIS Speaker MEANS missed mercy, disestablishment and hell. Judgment proceeds on, no more interrupted by mercy, which is dismissed by the detractors as in Him irrelevant; since they do not and will not know God. It is as if some seeing their employer, refused to know him, and found themselves by their own wearisome wits, nonplussed, indeed negated in the realm. In this, Psalm 55:9,10,11 go very much together. Violence and strife move like a poisonous gas in the city. Day and night they afflict it with their deceptions; they destroy, oppress, their lives a dying lie,  a sighing exhaust. Therefore they are to be destroyed, their companionship in tatters, their egregious éclat becoming as dismal in fact as it always was in spirit.

As for Him whom they hated,  crying to God from His own site in redeeming flesh, the appointed victim, He knows that "He shall hear My voice. He has redeemed My soul in peace from the battle that was against Me, for there were many against Me. God will hear, and afflict them, even He who abides from of old."

How does God redeem HIS soul ? How is it that this sinless one, whose righteousness is completely vindicated, NEEDS Himself to be redeemed ? This we will see more completely in Psalm 69, a centralised classic; but for now, it is because His many enemies having cast their sin on Him, there is need of evacuation of the dirt cast, for with their hatred and follies He is covered, a victim not untouched; and while His inner being is not tarnished, He is subject to their judgment in the flesh, and becomes an outcast from their midst, like the 'scape-goat, sent into the wilderness (Leviticus 16:21-22).

Psalm 69

Cause-free Hatred Exacts Penalty and Receives It

Here the mass of massive malevolence is focussed more generally because "zeal for Your house has consumed Me."

Trouble in messy mire and the tossing of turbulent waters follow reproach, transferred from God to Himself, the vicariously victimised Messiah. In this case, the meaning is this: that the inimical hostility which many feel, or have towards God, was transported to Him, who stood in such unequivocal relationship to His divine Father. He did not reject this (as in Isaiah 50:5ff.). Quite simply, He was willing, without personal desert, to become a victim so that we, with it, might not.  Thus He has become one whom the Lord has struck (Psalm 69:26), while it is He who is the One who in finality bears the shame in Person (Psalm 69:69:19). He is identified with God, and reproach has broken His heart, gall is His food; indeed, vinegar the vicious proferment, instead of convivial fare. Of comfort there is none. For His love as before, there is hatred (Psalm 109:4); but He endures, and does not move in His gloriously pure mercy and attestation of unyielding love. Yet its very pith and purity means that rejected, it has no substitute.

Hence their very strength will trap those who bring shame and dishonour, scorn and death mixed like an intoxicating cocktail. As to such, desolate will be their lair, the book of their lives failing to keep them in memory at all.

What follows ? In Psalm 69:32, we find this: Therefore you who seek God, your heart will live. The humble will see this and be glad, for the action is of the Lord and His death is His provision. When therefore some must suffer for Him,   the Lord does not despise those confined in prison for His own sake; nor will this fail in time to apply to Israel as a nation. He will save even it, and its heritage will remain (109:33, Romans 11). Indeed, just as the reproaches of those who reproached God fall on Him who is killed, so this very reproach has broken His heart; for there is no desolation like that of and from sin, and when this is borne, though infinitely innocent be the bearer, the result is not the less. Guilt received vicariously is not in name only, but shatters the magnificence of guiltlessness, that a justice foreign to the victim being met, those who could not pay for their own guilt, might be stupendously pardoned, freely.

Thus the descriptions mount, the substitution of one man for the focus of sin leading to eternal life for others (Psalm 22:26, 69:32). Death, eternal and judicial awaits those who causing His death, in hatred, cannot profit from it, and now bear reproach, cast back on on Him and so ricocheting to themselves. So do they lose the appointed mercy of one who could have swallowed their sin amid mercy, and surround themselves in the process, only with additional guilt. Now they must swallow their own, and die in their sins (as in John 8:24). 

 Psalm 109

Receivers of Reward for their Pains

who Give Hatred for Love, evil for Good.

For the 3rd time (Psalm 41:9,  55:12-14, 109:6), one particular man comes as it were into infra-red night focus, in the hideous darkness. A comprehensive guilt guide follows in which even posterity and forbears participate, as if generations have filed for such a place in heart, in times past, and will do so in times to come. As to the individual in focus for stark evil and betrayal: Mercy was far from his heart, who so acted, indeed, he persecuted the poor man, setting out to "slay the broken in heart."  Such a concept is found in Psalm 109:16, as in Psalm 69:9-14,20-21.

High office was the lot of the betrayer, and in this he must be replaced. He loved to curse: let him therefore have his love. Let it saturate its donor, requite its donor, yes to that category of remorseless persecution let it go as it came, a furrow from his own plough. As to the one betrayed, for his part, His very heart is wounded, He is dispelled like an insect shaken off, yes a cursed, devouring insect. Indeed, He will be restored amid the multitude, saved from their judgment, from the detractor and the plague of bitter hatred of God (Psalm 69:9), in the action of God Himself.

The category of curse is thoroughly entered by these spiritual assassins, and for those continuing so. In all these, guilt is transferred illicitly, by defamation, and it is done in hatred, it does not stick to its victim, but rebounds to engulf the merciless, and to pound those without pity. Their condemnation of Him, rebounds to become their own condemnation, and this unmoved, becomes the entangling mesh of their own condemnation. He acted in love for them as in John 3 and Psalm  109:4. They responded in hatred for Him, whose heart is broken in vain for them; for those condemning the good inherit in eternity the evil.

The intimacy of friendship, the closeness of companionship, the sharing of religious practices, like melted butter, was close as a savour. Now its is invasion as by a sword, makes mockery of love, folly of friendship and ludicrous the quality of loyalty . It turns association into the site for an axe, as if a love, changing, should rise against one suddenly, intent on slaughter.

In love, he bears this reproach, and dies with it: but profitless is it for those, who are more interested in magnifying it than the Lord, whom as shown they despise!

In the end, in righteousness He rejoices and past ruin, He is restored who was smitten, Himself the source of eternal life. Read with Psalm 118, one finds that it is He, the stone which the builders rejected, who has become the headstone of the corner, and that it is He who is the gate into which one may enter. HE enters in His OWN righteousness (116:19), and beckons to others to enter, who opened hearts make it both visible and desirable!

Hatred is repaid for love, evil is the coin for good's requital in a topsy-turvy maelstrom.




AS in Psalm 22, you find the MODE of death of the Messiah, and the eternal life resulting
(as sought by David for his part in Psalm 21, and received in faith),
and the universal applicability of this divine dealing for salvation;


and as in Psalm 16, you find this includes the bodily resurrection of the Christ
who, as in Isaiah 26:19, raises those who are His from the very dead,
from the dust of their own mortality;


 and as in Psalm 40 you find the arrival of the Messiah
per body prepared for the purpose, on this earth:


SO here you have the judicial proceedings where His love voided and spurned,
His betrayal is followed up in applied principle (as in John 3:,19,36 after 3:15-18).
This shows justice now unimpeded for those who are the lively devourers of the gift of God,
who would both break it up with their teeth and spit it out,
who withhold faith and rest on their own state, stature or 'position',
as if He were fraud and they those whose discernment is greater,
whose works surpass, whose name is above that of Jesus Christ.

What comes before a fall ? elevation, and pride elevates. 

Many are the facets of divine salvation, and as to the responsibility of man, not as some puppet of the Almighty, but as an active agent, whom God has researched and known before time was (Ephesians 1:4). To put it in human terms: this has its outcomes. What the Messiah, Jesus Christ, BORE is proportionate to the REASON for which He bore it. It is out of love and in body, that He bore it; and if it were not death itself, that dissolution of liberty and that entrainment of judgment, that was involved for our sinful race, neither would such a step on His part have been apt, appropriate or the just remedy. Since however our case as a race is in the area of outrageous, so has been what He bore and the manner of it, that stricken, He might void the striking we deserve (Isaiah 53:1-5), and arisen, He might confer the eternity which is, and always has been His.