From the back of the book:
The Bible includes prayers such as, “Blessed are those who take your babies and dash them upon the rocks.” How int he world could such barbaric language be part of the Bible? Moreover, how could God’s holy Word contain an entire genre of cursing psalms, known as “imprecatory psalms”? In this short work, Pastor Sean McGowan explores how to understand these psalms and addresses the question whether these psalms have any place in the church today. Can the church pray and sing these psalms? Can individual Christians pray these kinds of prayers? This book will equip you to answer these difficult questions.
Table of Contents
Foreword by Dr. Benjamin Shaw
- A Cursory Glance at the Psalms
- What Are the Imprecatory Psalms?
- Psalm 137: Overview and Exegesis
- The Imprecatory Psalms and the New Testament
- Can a Christian Pray These Psalms?
Appendix: A Sample of Imprecations in the Bible
Sean McGowan (BS, Liberty University; MA, Reformed Theological Seminary) is Pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Tallahassee, FL. Prior to this call, he was an educator for over 13 years, having taught Bible, theology, and history. He is the author of Infant Baptism: An Introductory Sprinkling for Parishoners.
“Pastor McGowan lays a biblical foundation for the church’s use of the imprecatory psalms. He clearly shows that the Old and New Testaments are not opposed to each other concerning the love of enemies and the seeking of God’s justice. With wisdom and humility, he answers the difficult question concerning how the church can use the imprecatory psalms today. I highly recommend this work.”
– Dr. Richard P. Belcher, Jr., Professor of Old Testament & Academic Dean at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte, NC)
“Pastor McGowan has done a masterful job of presenting, clearly and succinctly, the theology and purpose of that body of psalms which are commonly maligned or embarrassingly ignored: the psalms that curse. Why are they in the Bible? How can a believer pray them – if he or she may properly pray them at all? Pastor McGowan has distilled their essence and steers us in a path toward a helpful and hopeful embrace of these prayers once again. May the Lord use this work to embolden the church to both live and pray for ‘Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done.'”
– Dr. John N. Day, Author of Crying for Justice: What the Psalms Teach Us about Mercy and Vengeance in an Age of Terrorism
“In this very helpful introduction to the imprecatory psalms, Sean McGowan has achieved the all too rare virtues of both brevity and substantiveness, of both popular accessibility and scholarly precision, of both pastoral winsomeness and prophetic urgency. I highly commend it to you.”
– Dr. George Grant, Pastor of Parish Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Franklin, TN
“This tiny book comes in fast, focused, and fastidious as it addresses several significant questions. It answers if the psalms that present ‘harsh language’ and make us uncomfortable at times still have any relevance for the church today and ought they to even be used in prayers by the church in our age. McGowan makes convincing arguments in one direction and responds to several doubts in thoughtful ways. Psalms that Curse: A Brief Primer should be in the hands of every pastor and parishoner.”
– Dr. Michael Philliber, Pastor of Heritage Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Oklahoma City, OK and Author of Our Heads on Straight: Sober-Mindedness – A Forgotten Christian Virtue
“Bible-believing Christians recognize God’s Word to be a unified, harmonious, and coherent revelation of His character and creation. So what do we do with harsh or difficult passages such as the curses we read in the imprecatory psalms? Surely we cannot omit these verses in our devotions, singing, teaching, or praying. But they present a unique challenge to us when we think about how to apply them. My friend Pastor Sean McGowan has ably written a straight-forward guide to orient our thinking about the imprecatory psalms and to defend the propriety of their use in our spiritual lives.”
– Zachary Groff, Pastor of Antioch Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Woodruff, SC and Director of Advancement & Admissions at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (Taylors, SC)