This post is dedicated with respect and sorrow to the memory of Ahmaud Arbery.
Some of God’s songs are “imprecatory” – they call God’s judgment down upon those who relentlessly and unrepentantly pursue evil. Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that “under the sun” there is a time for love and a time for hate. The imprecatory Psalms (see Psalms 94 and 109 as particularly instructive examples) provide the healthy, holy expression of righteous hatred and the desire for retributive justice.
But doesn’t Jesus say to turn the other cheek? Yes, indeed (Matthew 5:39). When someone slaps us in the face, we can overlook the offense (Proverbs 19:11). Jesus peaches against a retaliatory mindset born of self-righteousness and wounded pride. He tells us to have an open door in our hearts for all people, but he never tells us to become doormats for anyone. In the face of injustice, the imprecatory Psalms let our souls walk a biblical path between sinful activity and sinful passivity.