An “imprecation” is a voiced desire that something bad happen to someone else. The dictionary defines it as a “curse.” Within the Psalms are a number of imprecatory poems that call down horrible events on others, usually people who have treated the writer shamefully. Psalm 35 is a case in point.
The writer sees himself as someone with a history of humble service to others. When others were ill, he prayed and mourned for them. But when he himself hit a bad spot, those he had prayed for turned on him and rather than root for his recovery and deliverance, they prayed that he would die. Verses 7 and 8 may indicate that the misfortune he suffered was a deliberate attempt to cause him harm and once successful, his enemies rejoiced at the psalmist’s misfortune (note the reference to “glee” (vs. 15) and “gloat” (vs. 19).
The writer, of course, does the same thing as his enemies: he wishes them ill. He takes it further in that he asks God to make it happen.
How will we use such poems? Or can we use them at all?
However God has called us to treat our enemies, how we feel about them is something else. God does not allow us revenge, and in the face of unjust treatment, the poem reminds us to take our feelings to God, and leave the result in His hands.