Today’s author was featured on a blog aggregate that also features some of my writing. David Kitz writes at I Love the Psalms. The particular one under discussion today is a tough Psalm for many readers. Even Wikipedia (not necessarily a best choice for Bible commentary) notes, “Psalm 109 is a psalm noted for containing some of the most severe curses in the Bible.” Spurgeon didn’t mess around with this Psalm either,
Those who regard a sort of effeminate benevolence to all creatures alike as the acme of virtue are very much in favor with this degenerate age; these look for the salvation of the damned, and even pray for the restoration of the devil. It is very possible that if they were less in sympathy with evil, and more in harmony with the thoughts of God, they would be of a far sterner and also of a far better mind. To us it seems better to agree with God’s curses than with the devil’s blessing; and when at any time our heart kicks against the terror of the Lord we take it as proof of our need of greater humbling, and confess our sin before our God. (sourced at)
Take a closer look at the text below and see what you think! Click the link to read at source and check other Psalms-based devotionals.
Reading: Psalm 109
Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.
When he is tried, let him be found guilty,
and may his prayers condemn him.
May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership.
May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.
May his children be wandering beggars;
may they be driven from their ruined homes.
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.
May his descendants be cut off,
their names blotted out from the next generation.
May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD;
may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.
May their sins always remain before the LORD,
that he may blot out their name from the earth (NIV).
This portion of Psalm 109 contains fourteen mays of condemnation. After reading this long list of curses spoken against this unnamed individual, it becomes abundantly clear that David, the author of this psalm, was not affectionately inclined toward this man of treachery. This man, who earlier was identified as a friend, had turned against David. In the verse just prior to today’s reading, David laments, “They repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship” (Psalm 109:5).
Psalm 109 is called an imprecatory psalm. The word imprecatory simply is a fancy term for cursing. I am sure many Christians are unaware that there is cursing in the Bible—cursing coming from the man who penned Psalm 23—the LORD is my shepherd.
Many find the imprecatory psalms deeply troubling. I include myself in that number. Does God condone calling down curses on our enemies? What about the words of Jesus?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” (Matthew 5:43-46).
I remain convinced that Jesus calls us to live on a higher plane—the plane where he dwells.
Response: Father God, I need your help. I find it easy to lash out at those who have hurt me. When I want to go for the jugular help me reach out for Jesus instead. I want to be more like you, Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Is there a place for the imprecatory psalms in the Bible? What purpose might they serve?
Go Deeper: For a much longer treatment of this Psalm at Bible.org, which also contains a broad overview of the imprecatory Psalms, click this link.