Some of the psalms contain curses against enemies. Historically, the meaning of these is plain: “May my enemy and his loved ones suffer, get hurt, fall sick, be maimed, exterminated, killed, die....” These psalms are filled with authentic hatred.
What are we to think of them?
It would be inappropriate to use these curses against other human beings.
Some Christian writers in antiquity directed the use of these curses against demons, temptations, and personal sins.
Some persons use them as a sort of confession: “Lord, forgive me, because here’s what I really think about that guy.”
Some want their use to be entirely banned.
Here are some of the curses.
FROM PSALM 58
O God, break the teeth in their mouths;
tear out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord!
Let them vanish like water that runs away;
like grass let them be trodden down and wither.
Let them be like the snail which dissolves into slime,
like the untimely birth that never sees the sun.
Sooner than your pots can feel the heat of thorns,
whether green or ablaze, may he sweep them away!
The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance;
he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.
FROM PSALM 68
But God will shatter the heads of his enemies,
the hairy crown of him who walks in his guilty ways.
The Lord said, "I will bring them back...
that you may bathe your feet in blood,
that the tongues of your dogs may have their portion from the foe."
FROM PSALM 69
Let their own table before them become a snare;
let their sacrificial feasts be a trap.
Let their eyes be darkened,
so that they cannot see;
and make their loins tremble continually.
Pour out thy indignation upon them,
and let thy burning anger overtake them.
May their camp be a desolation,
let no one dwell in their tents.
Add to them punishment upon punishment;
may they have no acquittal from thee.
Let them be blotted out of the book of the living;
let them not be enrolled among the righteous.
FROM PSALM 109
Appoint a wicked man against him;
let an accuser bring him to trial.
When he is tried, let him come forth guilty;
let his prayer be counted as sin!
May his days be few;
may another seize his goods!
May his children be fatherless,
and his wife a widow!
May his children wander about and beg;
may they be driven out of the ruins they inhabit!
May the creditor seize all that he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
Let there be none to extend kindness to him,
nor any to pity his fatherless children!
May his posterity be cut off;
may his name be blotted out in the second generation!
May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord,
and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out!
Let them be before the Lord continually;
and may his memory be cut off from the earth!
He loved to curse; let curses come on him!
He did not like blessing; may it be far from him!
He clothed himself with cursing as his coat,
may it soak into his body like water,
like oil into his bones!
May it be like a garment which he wraps round him,
like a belt with which he daily girds himself!
May this be the reward of my accusers from the Lord,
of those who speak evil against my life!
Let my assailants be put to shame;
may thy servant be glad!
May my accusers be clothed with dishonor;
may they be wrapped in their own shame as in a mantle!
O daughter of Babylon, you devastator!
Happy shall he be who requites you with what you have done to us!
Happy shall he be who takes your little ones
and dashes them against the rock!