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How can the God of the Old testament be described as loving? Part 1

The imprecatory Psalms


The Old Testament describes awful events that God does not just allow but commands. How can God be described as loving when we read such stories?


Our approach to exploring this topic is to consider the imprecatory psalms of the Hebrew scriptures in which the psalmists want something bad to happen to someone else.




Definition of Imprecatory: Imprecatory Psalms, contained within the Book of Psalms of the Hebrew Bible (Hebrew: תנ"ך), are those that imprecate – invoke judgment, calamity, or curses upon one's enemies or those perceived as the enemies of God [1].


Imprecations in the Psalms

Of the one hundred and fifty Psalms, six are com­monly classified as "imprecatory" Psalms. These are Psalms 55, 59, 69, 79, 109 and 137.


Besides these main six imprecatory Psalms, there are portions of other Psalms which include statements, calling for God's wrath and punishment to be executed upon the wicked.

Some examples are Psalms 17:13-1435:4-624-2658:6-1168:171:1383:13-1794:1-7129:5-8140:9-11143:12, etc.


How can we account for the petitions raised to God to bring curses upon the wicked?


For example  ’Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell’’ (Psalm 55:15), or "Break their teeth, O God, in their mouth" (Psalm 58:6), "Let them be blotted out of the book of the living?" (Psalms 69:28), "Pour out thy wrath upon the heathen" (Psalm 79:6), are some of the fearsome curses the Psalmists wish upon their enemies.


There are curses for God's wrath to even come upon widows and children: "Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow" (Psalm 109:9f), and speaking about the Babylonians, the Psalmist says: "Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy lit­tle ones against the stones" (Psalm 137:9).


How can we match up these curses from the Psalms with the God of Love described in the New Testament?


[1] Wikipedia definition.


In Part 2 We we will consider if there can be any justification for these imprecatory psalms.

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