imprecatory Psalms


(Psalm 11, 34, 51, 58, 68, 108, 136) Those marked by strong expressions and denunciations of the foes of Israel and God. Since these psalms no less than other portions of Holy Writ are Divine utterances, their interpretation must not make God the author of breaches of that love which we are bound to have even with regard to enemies. Not all may be explained in the same way. Many of them express national sentiments which while not intrinsically bad are not on the same spiritual plane as the injunctions of the Sermon on the Mount. They are utterances of a warlike people. Again these so-called imprecations at times refer to the fulfillment of prophecies which God had made concerning the fate of Israel’s enemies because of their evil ways and defiance of God. Thus Saint Peter (Acts 1) interprets Psalms 67 and 108. Hatred being excluded, a desire for just vengeance and reparation to be executed by the Almighty is not in itself unlawful. At times the poetic form includes dialogue so that not all statements should be regarded as expressive of the mind of God. Thus Psalm 108:6-19, may be explained as imprecations uttered by enemies of the psalmist. Finally the implications which individual passages are capable of in our translated idiom, of another time and manner of speech, cannot always be urged as the absolute and native meaning of the Oriental (ancient) words in their poetic setting.

MLA Citation

  • “imprecatory Psalms”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 6 February 2013. Web. 21 February 2019. <>