Fill their faces with dishonor, that they may seek Your name, O Lord. Let them be ashamed and dismayed forever, and let them be humiliated and perish, that they may know that You alone, whose name is the Lord, Are the Most High over all the earth. Psalm 83:16-18
Psalm 83 is what’s called an Imprecatory Psalm. “Imprecate” means “to pray evil against” or “to invoke curses upon” another. These prayers bring us in contact with the sufferings of the people of God and their cry against their enemies. We can identify with them because we have often felt the same way toward our enemies. Such psalms show us that God welcomes our cries and understands our human emotions. Although Christ has asked us to love our enemies (Matt.5:44), God knows that we cannot do that without the power of His grace. We need to take our pains and hurts before Him and allow Him to heal our wounds. God is a Father whom we can trust with the deepest secrets of our heart. He is not surprised by the darkness hidden in the depths of our soul. In fact He welcomes these imprecatory and honest prayers because through them our soul is exposed and we come to know the deep hatred and darkness we carry inside ourselves. That is when the healing can begin! When all things are exposed in the light, then He will cleanse us from all our sins (1 John 1:7).
Moreover, reading these psalms, we come to know God as the people of God who proceeded us knew Him. Here, Asaph, one of David’s worship leaders, is imploring God to confound his enemies. He is asking God to bring dishonor to their lives, but for a purpose. He knows that dishonor humbles them and awakens them to their self-reliant and self-exalting life. He knows that in that humility and despair they will seek God. When we cannot turn elsewhere, we can turn to God or perish. Asaph knows that it is through humility that people come to their senses and call upon the Most High God, and recognize that He is truly the LORD of all. There is no God but Him; there is no hope but through Him. When dishonor comes; when shame takes over; when abandonment and forsakenness are the only friends of our soul, the LORD Almighty is calling for us. In his anger, Asaph is assuming that his wicked enemies will be humbled and know that they have no power before God, but in the darkness of their heart they will reject Him and will perish. But it does not need to be that way!
At some point in all of our lives, our knees will bow before Christ and our tongues will confess that He is LORD (Phil.2:9-11). Usually this does not happen until we are humbled and broken and repentant. At that point, the Father lovingly welcomes His prodigal sons and daughters into His arms (Luke 15:11-32). But remember that while brokenness and despair can lead to salvation in the arms of God, they can also send us to perdition and death in the hands of the world (2 Cor.7:10). The way of God leads to restoration, healing, and Life, whereas the ways of the world lead to death and destruction (2 Cor.7:10). Today He is calling your name in the midst of your pain, dishonor, brokenness, and shame. Run to Him and drink from the living water without cost (Isa.55:1).