Praying for those who do us harm to be punished by God is not a very popular thought. We cannot imagine someone who would want God to punish those who have threatened them, persecuted them, insulted them or made life very difficult for them.
However, when one reads the psalms of the Old Testament, there are many sacred poems preserved for our reading which request such action by God. They identify for us the actions of the wicked and serve as an encouragement for us to not practice this wicked lifestyle.
King David wrote a psalm (28) requesting God to not include him in the punishment of the wicked. It is as if David is describing the type of person he does not want to be.
The King says the wicked are those “who speak peace with their neighbors, while evil is in their hearts” (v. 3). They “do not regard the works of the Lord nor the deeds of His hands” (v. 5).
In thinking about these two descriptions, the first describes hypocrisy and dishonesty. We might call such a person “two faced.” They are saying one thing to our face while their “heart,” their “mind” is thinking just the opposite. This action is really a hypocritical, dishonest action. A person is not being truthful with their neighbor.
If honesty and truthfulness cannot prevail between neighbors, then on what basis do we really have a relationship with each other? If this mindset exists between neighbors then you really cannot trust your neighbors. There is always suspicion.
The second description of the wicked addresses their disbelief they have in God Himself. They are not willing to consider the things the Lord has done and recognize that He is the only God and should be honored and revered.
In describing himself, David gives us some descriptions of those who are not wicked and whose prayers the Lord will hear. This person is one who puts their trust in God and therefore is extremely happy with the things which happen in their life. They will be so happy that they will be singing “God’s praises.”
This difficult action of praying for God to punish the wicked should not be something we would desire. If we totally understand what that will mean, then we would not want that to happen to our neighbors. We would not want anyone to be living for eternity separated from God.
Our prayer for the wicked should be that we might have an opportunity to help them see that their behavior is not pleasing to God and He will punish them if they do not turn from such action and begin living God’s way.
Carlton G. McPeak is an evangelist working in the Florida Gateway region. All Scriptural quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Holman Bible Publishers, unless otherwise stated. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.