Over the last few days I’m sure you’ve read various responses to the death of Osama Bin Laden, just as I have. And I’m sure that you’ve heard a little bit of everything, as have I. On the one hand there are those who are celebrating like Mardi Gras. On the other side are those who say that we should never rejoice over the death of anyone, especially someone now in hell (unless you believe Rob Bell. On that note: see this wonderful take)
I have nothing really to offer on the subject, other than to say that the truth is somewhere in the middle. I think Scripture certainly allows for “rejoicing” at the demise of those who are enemies of the Church and humanity in general, which this man certainly was. At the same time, we should take solemn note of the reality of his destiny and know that we deserverthe same. Only the Sovereign Saving Grace of Christ stands between any of us and the same reward.
So since I’m really too poor to offer my own two cents, let me borrow a few pennies from someone else. The following thoughts come from C. H. Spurgeon regarding the “imprecatory” Psalms, those that curse and wish for the destruction of an enemy. The first is his own, the second is a quote from another included in Spurgeon’s Treasury of David. Hope you find them helpful.
“If this be an imprecation, let it stand; for our heart says "Amen" to it. It is but justice that those who hate, harass, and hurt the good should be brought to naught... This present age is so flippant that if a man loves the Saviour he is styled a fanatic, and if he hates the powers of evil he is named a bigot. As for ourselves, despite all objectors, we join heartily in this commination; and would revive in our heart the old practice of Ebal and Gerizim, where those were blessed who bless God, and those were cursed who make themselves a curse to the righteous. We have heard men desire a thousand times that the gallows might be the reward of the assassins who murdered two inoffensive men in Dublin, and we could never censure the wish; for justice ought to he rendered to the evil as well as to the good. Besides, the church of God is so useful, so beautiful, so innocent of harm, so fraught with good, that those who do her wrong are wronging all mankind and deserve to be treated as the enemies of the human race. Study a chapter from the "Book of Martyrs", and see if you do not feel inclined to read an imprecatory Psalm over Bishop Bonner and Bloody Mary. It may be that some wretched nineteenth century sentimentalist will blame you: if so, read another over him.” (C. H. Spurgeon)
“Imprecations. —I cannot forbear the following little incident that occurred the other morning at family worship. I happened to be reading one of the imprecatory psalms, and as I paused to remark, my little boy, a lad of ten years, asked with some earnestness: "Father, do you think it right for a good man to pray for the destruction of his enemies like that?" and at the same time referred me to Christ as praying for his enemies. I paused a moment to know how to shape the reply so as to fully meet and satisfy his enquiry, and then said, "My son, if an assassin should enter the house by night, and murder your mother, and then escape, and the sheriff and citizens were all out in pursuit, trying to catch him, would you not pray to God that they might succeed and arrest him, and that he might be brought to justice?" "Oh, yes!" said he, "but I never saw it so before. I did not know that that was the meaning of these Psalms." "Yes", said I, "my son, the men against whom David plays were bloody men, men of falsehood and crime, enemies to the peace of society, seeking his own life, and unless they were arrested and their wicked devices defeated, many innocent persons must suffer." The explanation perfectly satisfied his mind.” —F.G. Hibbard, in "The Psalms chronologically arranged", 1856.