Treatment of Our Enemies


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Treatment of Our Enemies 

How should we treat our enemies, including how we pray for them?

Psalm 69.19–28

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • December 6, In the year of our Lord, 2015

Scripture Reader and Reading: Mike Crisp – Psalm 69.19–21

Song Leader and Song Suggestions: Phil Joseph – No suggestions


  1. “Don—the Bible tells us to pray for our enemies. King David does that in many Psalms. But Bible teachings also warn us against wishing evil on our enemies, and it seems like David is asking God for retribution on his enemies, like in Psalm 69:19–28…I know you have taught and preached on this before, but it is hard for us to understand and do. Exactly who is our enemy, who should be, how do we pray for them, think of them, treat them, etc.?”


  1. Imprecatory Psalms
    1. Psalm 69 (and others, such as Psalm 35),
      1. present imprecatory prayers.
      2. An imprecatory psalm records the psalmist asking God:
        1. for judgment on enemies, or
        2. that calamity might fall on the wicked, or
        3. that they might be cursed for their evil.
    2. How do we deal with psalms that ask for God’s vengeance on enemies?
    3. Psalm 69 first states what the enemies were doing.
      1. In light of what they were doing,
      2. the psalmist requested of God
      3. that the enemies suffer by God’s indignation,

        19 You know my reproach, my shame, and my dishonor;
        My adversaries are all before You.
        20 Reproach has broken my heart,
        And I am full of heaviness;
        I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none;
        And for comforters, but I found none.
        21 They also gave me gall for my food,
        And for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
        22 Let their table become a snare before them,
        And their well-being a trap.
        23 Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see;
        And make their loins shake continually.
        24 Pour out Your indignation upon them,
        And let Your wrathful anger take hold of them.
        25 Let their dwelling place be desolate;
        Let no one live in their tents.
        26 For they persecute the ones You have struck,
        And talk of the grief of those You have wounded.
        27 Add iniquity to their iniquity,
        And let them not come into Your righteousness.
        28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living,
        And not be written with the righteous.
        (Psa 69.19–28)
    4. Verses 19–21 states what the enemy did.
      1. Did you recognize these verses as fulfilled in the New Testament?
        1. Look at verse 21,
        2. while I read two verses from the New Testament,

          34 They gave Him sour wine mingled with gall to drink. But when He had tasted it, He would not drink… 48 Immediately one of them ran and took a sponge, filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and offered it to Him to drink (Matt 27.34, 48).

          1. Do you recognize what I just read?
          2. I read from Matthew 27.34, 48!
            1. When you look back at verses 19 and 20 of Psalm 69
            2. you will see how they also apply to the crucifixion of Christ.
      2. Listen to Psalm 69.4,

        4 Those who hate me without a cause
        Are more than the hairs of my head;
        They are mighty who would destroy me,
        Being my enemies wrongfully;
        Though I have stolen nothing,
        I still must restore it.
        (Psa 69.4)

        1. Again, this is fulfilled in the New Testament in John 15.
          1. In verses 14–24, Jesus warned the apostles of the world’s hate,
          2. hating them because the world hated Him.
          3. Then listen to what He said in verse 25,

            25 But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, “They hated Me without a cause” {Psalm 69.4} (John 15.25).
      3. Psalm 69.9 also has fulfillment in John 2,

        9 Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up,
        And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.
        (Psa 69.9)

        17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up” {Psa 69.9} (John 2.17).

      4. Psalm 69.25 also has a connection to the New Testament,

        25 Let their dwelling place be desolate;
        Let no one live in their tents.
        (Psa 69.25)

        20 For it is written in the book of Psalms: “Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it”; {Psa 69.25} (Acts 1.20).

      5. Psalm 69.7, 9 (and maybe 20) say more,

        7 Because for Your sake I have borne reproach;
        Shame has covered my face…

        9 Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up,
        And the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me.
        (Psa 69.7, 9).

        3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me” {Psa 69.9} (Rom 15.3).

      6. Why have I brought up all these references to Christ?
    5. Back in Psalm 69.22–28 we have the psalmist, or Jesus,
      1. expressing what He wants God to do.
      2. Is it possible to reconcile these verses with the prayer of Jesus?

        34 “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23.34)?

        1. The psalm prophesied of Christ and His crucifixion.
        2. This would mean that Psalm 69.22–28 also revealed His thoughts.
          1. Therefore, it must be possible to pray simultaneously
          2. for two things concerning our enemies:
            1. Their forgiveness, and
            2. That God’s wrath be upon them.
    6. What drives people to repent of their sins to obtain forgiveness?
      1. Some people hear of the pouring of God’s wrath on all ungodliness.
      2. Some people need to experience it.
    7. Moreover, do we want evil and wickedness to continue?
      1. Can we not even go further and argue
        1. that Christians should take an active role
        2. in stopping evil, crime and ungodliness?
      2. If, therefore, I ask God to punish my enemies, because
        1. they are committing evil against me,
        2. am I not taking an active part in stopping evil?
    8. Sometimes we become one-sided in our approach to various biblical issues,
      1. including how we treat our enemies.
      2. If someone told us that all you have to do to be saved
        1. is to believe in Jesus,
        2. we would know what to do.
          1. We would show the error of the faith-only doctrine.
          2. We would teach that belief is necessary and what else is involved.
      3. However, as a rule we do not operate like this on other issues.
        1. For example, I have heard abused wives argue
        2. that they cannot do anything about it, because
          1. they were being in submission like the Bible says.
          2. Yes, the Bible says to be in submission, but
            1. that is not all that it says.
            2. It also says to rebuke.
              1. Does being in submission nullify the command to rebuke?
              2. Do we even know what else to do?
      4. It is the same with our enemies.
        1. Yes, we love them.
        2. Yes, we pray for them, for their good.
          1. We pray that they reap as they have sown,
          2. causing them to cease doing evil.
  2. The Bible Tells Us to Pray for Our Enemies 
    1. Matthew 5 is the classic New Testament text on teachings about enemies,

      43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt 5.43–44).

      1. The context indicates that we pray for good concerning our enemies.
      2. If you say to me that you are praying for me,
        1. I assume you mean that you are asking God
        2. for good things to happen to me.
    2. Can we pray for the good of our enemies,
      1. while also asking God to let His wrathful anger take hold of them,
      2. as Psalm 69.24 mentioned?
    3. Jesus provides our example.
      1. Putting Psalm 69 and Luke 23 together,
      2. we see that He did both.
  3. What the Bible Warns Against Concerning Our Enemies 
    1. We cannot take personal vengeance.
      1. That does not mean we just let them continue in evil.
      2. Are Christians passive in relation to evil?
    2. We cannot return evil for evil.
  4. Does the New Testament Ever Have a Prayer for God’s Judgment on Enemies?
    1. Interestingly, Revelation 6, a New Testament passage,
      1. records Christians making imprecatory prayers,

        9 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed (Rev 6.9–11).
  5. Various Questions That Were Asked On Enemies
    1. Who is our enemy?
      1. Whoever seeks to keep you from doing the will of God.
    2. Who should be our enemy?
      1. Many Christians say they do not have any enemies.
      2. They probably do not recognize some who are their enemies.
    3. How do we pray for our enemies?
      1. You have to have the heart of Jesus.
      2. You have to receive God’s love.
      3. You have to remember that you came from a life of sin.
    4. How should we think of, and treat our enemies?
      1. The natural man wants to hurt someone who has hurt him.
        1. However, Christians emptied themselves of themselves, and
        2. filled themselves with Christ.
      2. Thus, we should see an enemy as a potential convert.
        1. We only convert people when we come into contact with them.
        2. We think that all contact has to be friendly at first.
          1. Look at the people Jesus changed in the New Testament.
          2. Was it always friendly at first?
            1. The people converted at the first Pentecost after His crucifixion
            2. had been His bitter enemies
            3. less than two months before at the crucifixion.
      3. Therefore, we return good for evil.