Did I catch your attention? Ever feel that way? I was reading Psalm 55 the other day and realised that David was praying his heart out and literally saying he wanted his enemies to go straight to hell — like, to fall into the pit of hell, still breathing. Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

When I read things like that, I get uncomfortable. I feel like saying Shh…David, don’t say that! That’s not nice! But David was known as “a man after God’s own heart.” Why? I think part of it was his honesty with God. He genuinely poured out hurt, anger, disappointments, a sense of betrayal by close friends, and even the desire that nothing good ever happen to them again. Ever. He prayed, “Let death seize them; Let them go down alive into hell, For wickedness is in their dwellings and among them.”

spooky clouds

But are we supposed to pray like that?

Well yes and no.

It’s right for us to pray that wickedness will come to an end. That’s God’s will. We should pray that those who are practicing injustice, for example kidnapping young girls and enslaving them in the sex industry, will meet their Maker. That their arms would be broken (perhaps not in the literal sense) — that their ways would come to a swift end. We bring the injustice to God, and pray that His will will be done. I don’t think this includes making our own plans to assassinate dictators or blow up abortion clinics, by the way. We bring it to God, as David did, and say “See this wickedness on the earth, Lord! We know You don’t like it! Please change things, and let the work of those perpetrating such evils be brought to nothing!”

As Matthew Henry points out, we can stand in awe of and comfort ourselves in David’s prayers, as prophecies. The things he prayed actually happened. Not because David prayed them, per se, but more because they were in agreement with the will of God. God’s will was done, and the wicked people who betrayed David did indeed come to an untimely end. The comfort? God is just, and He’ll see justice prevail in the end.

We should pray our hearts out like David. We should be honest with God about how we feel about the situations we’re encountering. We should tell Him when things have hurt us or discouraged us. You can’t really hide anything from Him anyway … so why not just talk about those big stinky “elephants in the room” of your heart?

But are we to curse those who’ve hurt us, the way David did? No. Jesus has shown us a better way. He basically said Love people that treat you really bad. And pray for people that purposefully hurt you. (Mt. 5:44, my paraphrase) And He’s given us a Spirit that can enable us to do so — a spirit that completely changes our nature. The natural man wishes terrible things on those who hurt him or betray him. Or jump in front of him in line at the grocery store with a huge cartload. Or cut him off in traffic. But the man who has been made new in Christ has a new Spirit, and by that Spirit is able to bless those who curse him.

In our prayer life, we should bring it all to God, (the good, the bad, the ugly) and trust Him to give us a new heart and a right spirit in response to whatever we’re facing.

The Sermon in a Nutshell: While David’s I Wish They’d All Just Go to Hell prayers were a demonstration of his honest emotions before God, Jesus has shown us a different way to live today. Bring it all to God. Pray that injustice and wickedness will not prevail, and pray that God will have mercy on people who mistreat you. If you can show love and forgiveness to people who hurt you, you are walking in the footsteps of Jesus.