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Psalm 109:17-18, Galatians 3:13

Psalm 109:17-18, Galatians 3:13
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Psalm 109:17-18, “He loved to curse; let curses come upon him!”

Galatians 3:13, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us…”

I recently talked to a group about the “imprecatory Psalms” (the Psalms that pray curses down on enemies of YHWH and His people). The question was, “how are Christians supposed to understand these Psalms?” As with every question and tension and conundrum, we get clarity as we come to the cross.

You see, the imprecatory Psalms pray curses on those who are enemies of God…well, one of the things we learn at the cross is that all of humanity without exception stands as an enemy of God (Rom.5:10, etc.). This leads us to ask, “what happened so that I might be in a position to oppose the enemies of God when I myself was an enemy of God?” —> Gal. 3:13.

Hanged on the tree of Calvary, God in Christ became the cursed enemy of God so that cursed enemies of God might be redeemed from the curse and be made children of God. In fact, no enemy of God will ever enter as deeply into the curse of the Law as Christ Himself since Christ endures the fullness of the curse to the end and is raised up beyond it (Note the hint of the resurrection in the crescent moon, which echoes the stone being rolled away from the tomb).

Christ passes into and through and beyond all curses in His experience of the supreme curse of separation from God, and this means that in the deepest, most horrifying dregs of every pit of cursing we find in the OT, there—lower than any other—we will find our Lord and God Himself in Jesus Christ, bearing and becoming the curse in our place.

How, then, does this influence our reading of the imprecatory Psalms? At least one implication is that the curses in these Psalms ought first and foremost to be understood as descriptions of what our Lord and God endured in love for His enemies….So to re-state Psalm 109:17-18, “He hated to curse, yet curses came upon Him. He delighted in blessing, yet it was far from Him. He clothed Himself in splendor, and as a servant to serve, yet the curse soaked into his body like water, and like oil into his bones…”

Through the interpretive lens of the crucified Christ we realize that—whatever else they may be—imprecatory Psalms are first and foremost descriptions of the beauty of our God who—in love—bore and become such curses in our place.