Bonhoeffer on Imprecatory Psalms

Can we, then, pray the imprecatory psalms? In so far as we are sinners and express evil thoughts in a prayer of vengeance, we dare not do so. But in so far as Christ is in us, the Christ who took all the vengeance of God upon himself, who met God’s vengeance in our stead, who thus — stricken by the wrath of God — and in no other way could forgive his enemies, who himself suffered the wrath that his enemies might go free — we, too, as member of this Jesus Christ, can pray these psalms, through Jesus Christ, from the heart of Jesus Christ.
Bonhoeffer, Life Together, 47.

Daniel Nehrbass, in his new book, Praying Curses (Pickwick, forthcoming), comments:
This Christocentric reading has several unique features. One must not equate the eschatological or prophetic readings with the Christocentric interpretation. Bonhoeffer, for instance, is not saying that in the psalter Christ was praying for a future vengeance upon his enemies. Instead, Christ becomes the object of this vengeance. He becomes the enemy and incurs the wrath of God. He writes, “I pray the imprecatory psalms in the certainty of their marvelous fulfillment. I leave the vengeance to God and ask him to execute his righteousness to all his enemies, knowing that God has remained true to himself and has himself secured justice in his wrathful judgment on the cross, and that this wrath as become grace and joy for us.”
Interesting. Not 100% sure that I "get" it but it opens up new ways of staring to think about imprecatory prayers in the Bible (and both the OT and NT contain rather a lot).


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