A Taste For Heat

This week, an unusual story was featured on most major networks. A judge in Texas dismissed the case against Gordon Klingenschmitt, a former Navy Chaplain. Michael Weinstein, an outspoken critic of Christianity and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, had filed suit against Klingenschmitt over the content of a 2009 prayer. He complained that the prayer was aimed at inciting violence against him and his family. Weinstein knew the contents of the prayer because it was posted online. Here’s what Klingenschmitt wrote:

“One-Minute Prayer: Let us pray. Almighty God, today we pray imprecatory prayers from Psalm 109 against the enemies of religious liberty, including Barry Lynn and Mikey Weinstein, who issued press releases this week attacking me personally. God, do not remain silent, for wicked men surround us and tell lies about us. We bless them, but they curse us. Therefore find them guilty, not me. Let their days be few, and replace them with Godly people. Plunder their fields, and seize their assets. Cut off their descendants, and remember their sins, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Combative, certainly, but it does not quite reflect the severity of David’s original:

O God, whom I praise, do not remain silent, for wicked and deceitful men have opened their mouths against me; they have spoken against me with lying tongues. With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause. In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer. They repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship. Appoint an evil man to oppose him; let an accuser stand at his right hand. When he is tried, let him be found guilty, and may his prayers condemn him. May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership. May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes. May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor. May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children. May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation. May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord; may the sin of his mother never be blotted out. May their sins always remain before the Lord, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.” (Psalm 109:1–15, NIV84)

Ouch! Some commentators explain away the caustic remarks by attributing them to David’s enemies, but this is not altogether persuasive. Regardless, one thing is clear, it is an appeal to God that He deal harshly with those that threaten His people. The court ruling grants us the freedom to pray in this manner, but should we?

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4 thoughts on “A Taste For Heat

  1. It all depends on the severity of the offense. Could I see myself praying something like that? Probably not, but if someone had murdered my young child then I am sure the prayer would even be more severe. I think the key is that our prayers are honest and open communication with an incredible God and he desires an intimate relationship with us where we can speak with him about our feelings no matter what they are.

  2. We are called to love our enemies and to pray FOR them, not against them. I can understand anger, hurt, disappointment and venting to God, but then we are called to let that go as difficult as it at times. Depending on how deep the hurt, it may take a few ventings to God before you can see beyond your hurt. You have to humble yourself and put aside your opinions/feelings to be able to pray for your enemies. I do not think that printing that prayer was something that Klingenschmitt should have done. It no longer was a personal communication with God, but rather a call of judgment on Weinstein and Lynn which is not his to make. I’m not sure how King David’s psalms were shared. I know some were sung, but others seem more like journal entries. Would Psalm 109 have been published or shared with the general population? Would he have prayed this publicly? I guess even if he did, he was king.

  3. It is hard not to wish evil on our enemies. I David, “a man after God’s own heart” wrote that prayer under the old covenant yet showed mercy toward Saul who was trying to kill him. I personally would like to spend the rest of my life killing drug dealers. Under the dispensation of Grace we are instructed to “turn the other cheek” and “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you… (Matt 5:44). Besides, we do not have to pray calamety upon our enemies, God has already promised to avenge our miseries: “Vengence is mine, I will repay.” Rom 12:19. Going on to vs 20, Paul recommends feeding your enemies (or other ways of showing kindness) and in doing so you heap burning coals on their heads. Has worked for me.

  4. Wow; I have never thought of this, in this way. As the daughter of a drug addict who is confined to a nursing home because of his addiction, I deal daily with trying to love this person who is truly unlovable. He curses me and my family; doesn’t care about us, but for the longest time I would just tell him that I’m praying for him and I hoped that he was praying too. Finally after all the mean things he would say and write to my brother and me, I couldn’t take it anymore and I want to pray the prayer of David. I struggle daily if the feelings I feel are ok, and is God frowning on my decision to distance from his negativity? I struggle with conflicting feelings about him and most of the time want to pray negatively. I think the Lord hears these prayers and allows these feelings and guides us during these trying times if we will just allow him to.

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