Hello, I’m Daniel Westfall on the channel “Pray with Me.”
Psalm 109’s message sounds like the opposite of Jesus’ prayer on the cross. Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.” In Psalm 109 , the poet prays:
Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy . . .
When he is tried, let him be found guilty,
may his prayers condemn him.
May his days be few,
may another take his place of leadership.
May his children be wandering beggars,
May a creditor seize all he has,
may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.
May no one extend kindness to him,
or take pity on his fatherless children (phrases from vv. 6-15).
How’s that for a sustained and vengeful list of curses! I have four comments:
First, Jesus sometimes confronted great evil with great anger. In Matthew 23, he calls the Pharisees hypocrites, snakes, murderers, and tombs full of bones. He asks, “How will you escape being condemned to hell?” (Mat. 23:1-36). His anger is an appropriate response to evil and injustice. We accept Jesus’ anger at the Pharisees and the poet’s anger at his enemies as legitimate emotional responses to people who perpetrate evil.
Second, there is at least one major difference between Jesus’ anger and the poet’s anger: Jesus expressed anger by pointing out and giving examples of the Pharisees’ sins. The poet’s approach? He wants revenge! He steps beyond the Old Testament’s “eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” rule by inviting evil to avalanche destructively on evildoers and their descendants.
Third, I like the poets’ description of his enemy:
He wore cursing as a garment,
it entered his body like water
and his bones like oil.
May it be like a cloak wrapped about him,
like a belt tied forever round him.
May this be the the Lord’s payment to my accusers,
to those who speak evil of me (vv. 18-20).
What an interesting word picture–an enemy wearing curses like a garment. The enemy’s garment begins to shape his identity. The attitude and practice of cursing seeps into his body like water, into his bones like oil, consuming his thoughts and life.
Words are powerful. By constantly cursing others, the enemy creates a culture of verbal abuse and violence and he must live in the culture he creates. The poet praysGod permit this to occur, that God will let the enemy inhabit the cursed world his curses create. The poet here is not seeking vengeance on his enemy, just asking that he will experience the consequences of his speech and actions.
And finally, I note that the poet does not take up weapons or make plans to avenge himself against his enemy. His words are a prayer that God will avenge him. A wise choice, not to loose our vengeance and violence on the world, but to express our anger in prayer and invite God to bring about justice.
Our father, the anger and vengeance of this psalm are words expressed to you. Help us, like the poet, to see clearly the injustices in the world, to be angry at perpetrators, to bring evil to your attention. Help us to walk with the poet in praying, to walk with Jesus in confronting evil, and to learn to say with Jesus, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.”
I’m Daniel on the channel “Pray with Me”.