Saturday, July 30, 2005 AD How To Imprecate Yourself A few months ago, in some sermon or other, Eric hammered home the point that we are our own worst enemies. That got the wheels turning in my head and I began to wonder, if I'm my own worst enemy, how can I use the imprecatory Psalms in the battle against my sinful self? I'm certainly not yet an expert on the matter, but the outline of an understanding is beginning to form in my head. This has been helped by a couple of other sources: Doug Wilson, somewhere on his blog, or in a sermon, or maybe both, reminded me that when we pray imprecatorily, we are first and foremost to be asking God to destroy our enemies as our enemies by granting them repentance. And Dave Hatcher, pastor of Eastside Evangelical Fellowship in Seattle, earlier this year preached a sermon series on the first 10 Psalms that I am finding extremely helpful in shaping my understanding of how to use the Psalms in general, as well as in this particular way.
And in a more general sense, something key about self-imprecation in general struck me tonight: I have a dreadful temper, and most often it is self-directed (or computer-directed, but that's a whole nother kettle of kittens). I will often yell at myself in streams of invective in which the words "stupid" and "idiot" figure prominently amidst other vituperative vocabulary that I will not repeat here. Tonight it occurred to me that those words are addressing deficiencies of intellect, which is not really the problem that needs addressing. I need to learn instead to scold myself with words such as "unbeliever" and "rebel," and I need to call myself not to get it right according to my own standards, but to repent and acknowledge that I have fallen short of God's standards.
In other words, all that self-directed viciousness is just a clever disguise for self-centeredness (somebody, I think Eric again, was talking about that recently, too). I do not make a good god. I make a really nasty, capricious, scary-not-in-a-holy-way-but-in-a-horrific-way god. The way to tear down that idol is not through enhancing my self-esteem ("I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!"), but by directing my attention away from myself to the One True God through worship. Self-imprecation that is not to that end is ultimately self-glorification.
Practically, this means that I need pretty much to always have a Psalter within arm's reach, or a hymnal bookmarked in the section with hymns of adoration. And then I need to use them throughout the day -- to stop and sing when things are going well and when things are going not so well. To constantly be directing my attention back to Him.