There is a country-western song that is popular right now entitled “Praying for You”. Here is part of that prayer:
I pray your brakes go out runnin’ down a hill
I pray a flowerpot falls from a window sill and knocks you in the head like I’d like to
I pray your birthday comes and nobody calls
I pray you’re flyin’ high when your engine stalls
I pray all your dreams never come true
Just know whereever you are honey, I pray for you
It is a clever turn of a phrase. But since I’ve been reading the Psalms recently, I’m quite aware that you frequently find those same sentiments in the Bible. The Psalmist is frequently praying for bad things to happen to his enemies.
When Clinton was president, I saw a bumper sticker that read “Pray for the President: Psalm 109:9” That verse says, “May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow”. Similarly hateful sentiments were expressed about Bush and are now expressed about Obama.
Jesus’ thoughts on the subject of praying for enemies are well known: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you … love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:27-28,35-36)
I’m curious about your thoughts on this dichotomy — the example given in Psalms and the approach urged by Jesus. How do you reconcile the two? What have you heard about this in the past? What thoughts come to mind as your read this?
I’ve included the music video of the song here in case you are interested.