Psalm 109

Psalm 109
Help Me, O LORD My God
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

(1) Be not silent, O God of my praise!
(2) For wicked and deceitful mouths are opened against me, speaking against me with lying tongues.
(3) They encircle me with words of hate, and attack me without cause.
(4) In return for my love they accuse me, but I give myself to prayer.
(5) So they reward me evil for good, and hatred for my love.

(6) Appoint a wicked man against him; let an accuser stand at his right hand.
(7) When he is tried, let him come forth guilty; let his prayer be counted as sin!
(8) May his days be few; may another take his office!
(9) May his children be fatherless and his wife a window!
(10) May his children wander about and beg, seeking food far from the ruins they inhabit!
(11) May the creditor seize all that he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
(12) Let there be none to extend kindness to him, nor any to pity his fatherless children!
(13) May his posterity be cut off; may his name be blotted out in the second generation!
(14) May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD, and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out!
(15) Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth!

(16) For he did not remember to show kindness, but pursued the poor and needy and the brokenhearted, to put them death.
(17) He loved to curse; let curses come upon him! He did not delight in blessing; may it be far from him!
(18) He clothed himself with cursing as his coat; may it soak into his body like water, like oil into his bones!
(19) May it be like a garment that he wraps around him, like a belt that he puts on every day!
(20) May this be the reward of my accusers from the LORD, of those who speak evil against my life!

(21) But you, O GOD my Lord, deal on my behalf for your name's sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!
(22) For I am poor and needy, and my heart is stricken within me.
(23) I am gone like a shadow at evening; I am shaken off like a locust.
(24) My knees are weak through fasting; my body has become gaunt, with no fat.
(25) I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they wag their heads.

(26) Help me, O LORD my God! Save me according to your steadfast love!
(27) Let them know that this is your hand; you, O LORD, have done it!
(28) Let them curse, but you will bless! They arise and are put to shame, but your servant will be glad!
(29) May my accusers be clothed with dishonor; may they be wrapped in their own shame as in a cloak!

(30) With my mouth I will give great thanks to the LORD; I will praise him in the midst of the throng.
(31) For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save him from those who condemn his soul to death.

Psalm 109 is titled: Plea for Judgment of False Accusers (NKJV), A Prayer Against an Enemy (ICB), Vengeance Invoked upon Adversaries (NASB), and above, Help Me, O LORD My God (ESV).

A song for the choirmaster. Whether that is the leader of worship in the tabernacle, or a song dedicated to the Master of all His choirs, God Himself, Bible scholars are not certain. This is a song of David. Psalm 109 is one of many Imprecatory Psalms.

Imprecation: noun a spoken curse.

This is a Psalm of David, and is thought to be the strongest of what are known as the imprecatory psalms, David’s songs that call down curses upon his enemies. It is important to remember that these are prayers, committing vengeance unto God. With the greater revelation of grace and truth that came by Jesus Christ, we understand that we are to pray for the good of our enemies, not for their ruin.

Yet, we remind ourselves that David refused to act upon these curses; he left vengeance up to God. This is especially relevant regarding David, who knew what it was to take life with the sword. When David withheld vengeance, it was because he chose to, not because he lacked the opportunity, skill, or courage.

Pastor David Guzik,

David was a warrior king. He could have taken vengeance into his own hands, but instead he waited for the Lord. He looked to God for direction. The Imprecatory Psalms can be hard for us to understand until we take the time to look at them a different way. What we have is a beautiful piece of history showing a deep, deep relationship between this warrior king and his God.

Do you not speak openly to God about your anger and frustration, about those who have hurt you? Does your tongue not cry out a similar demand for justice?

When we look at Psalm 109 as prayer of a frustrated warrior king with his loving Father God, it changes things.

Truly this is one of the hard places of Scripture, a passage which the soul trembles to read; yet as it is a Psalm unto God, and given by inspiration, it is not ours to sit in judgment upon it, but to bow our ear to what God the Lord would speak to us therein.

Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
O God, whom I praise, don't stand silent and aloof while the wicked slander me and tell lies about me. They surround me with hateful words and fight against me for no reason. I love them, but they try to destroy me with accusations even as I am praying for them! They repay evil for good, and hatred for my love.
Psalm 109:1-5 NLT

In the first five verses of Psalm 109, David pleads with God for deliverance from his enemies. Whoever these “wicked” people are, David has tried, and he is frustrated. He has loved them and prayed for them, but they still seek his destruction.

David begs God to not let these wicked men have the last word because David is being falsely accused. What they say about him is not true. What a horrible place that is to be. He is surrounded with hatred and all they say is lies. He feels that he does not deserve the mistreatment and calls upon God to take care of it.

David could have called his many warriors to his service. He could have finished them off, but that is not how David did things. He had the power to; the Bible speaks of David’s “Three” and “Thirty” mighty warriors. Read 2 Samuel 23:8-39 to learn more about these great warriors and their service and commitment to David throughout his life.

But David didn’t call his mighty warriors, instead he waited on God. This is David’s conversation with God in song and remembered through generations of Israelites and Christians.

Thus we see the harmless and innocent man upon his knees pouring out his lamentation: we are now to observe him rising from the mercy seat, inspired with prophetic energy, and pouring forth upon his foes the forewarning of their doom.

Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892
They say, "Get an evil person to turn against him. Send an accuser to bring him to trial. When his case comes up for judgment, let him be pronounced guilty. Count his prayers as sins. Let his years be few; let someone else take his position. May his children become fatherless, and his wife a widow. May his children wander as beggars and be driven from their ruined homes. May creditors seize his entire estate, and strangers take all he has earned. Let no one be kind to him; let no one pity his fatherless children. May all his offspring die. May his family name be blotted out in the next generation. May the LORD never forget the sins of his fathers; may his mother's sins never be erased from the record. May the LORD always remember these sins, and may his name disappear from human memory. For he refused all kindness to others; he persecuted the poor and needy, and he hounded the brokenhearted to death. He loved to curse others; now you curse him. He never blessed others; now don't you bless him. Cursing is as natural to him as his clothing, or the water he drinks, or the rich food he eats. Now may his curses return and cling to him like clothing; may they be tied around him like a belt."
Psalm 109:6-20 NLT

Bible scholars considered that these verses could be a summary of what David’s accusers say of him. The idea that David is the one who should be brought to trial, who cares not for the weak and helpless, and therefore, should be cursed for generations to come. However, Peter is quoted in the book of Acts using a portion of this psalm in a sermon, and in this section, Peter refers to Judas Iscariot:

"For it is written in the Book of Psalms,
'May his camp become desolate, and let there be no one to dwell in it';
'Let another take his office.'"
Acts 1:20 ESV

Peter speaks of Judas, an evil man rightly condemned, not a righteous man unfairly treated (as it would be if the words were about David). Therefore, Bible scholars lean toward these words being David’s of the man (or men) who mistreat him.

David pleads with God to set an evil ruler over this man and send an accuser to bring him to trial. Interestingly, the Hebrew word for accuser is “Satan.”

They say about me, "Have the Evil One work against him. Let the devil accuse him.
Psalm 109:6 ICB

Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand.
Psalm 109:6 KJV

David goes on to curse the one he speaks of. Although it is hard to hear a man of God wish that his enemies’ children would suffer, he still refuses to cause the suffering. He merely wishes it. Jesus calls us to love our enemies and certainly to wish good upon their children. But there is still a battle in our minds, even in the godliest mind, of wishing for something bad to befall someone who has hurt us. We are, after all, only human. David was only human.

It is fair to note that the tone of these curses is generally in the form of prophecies rather than immediate curses. David predicted the righteous judgment to come rather than pronouncing it- though, he certainly wished for that judgment.

Pastor David Guzik,
May those curses become the LORD's punishment for my accusers who speak evil of me. But deal well with me, O Sovereign LORD, for the sake of your own reputation! Rescue me because you are so faithful and good. For I am poor and needy, and my heart is full of pain. I am fading like a shadow at dusk; I am brushed off like a locust. My knees are weak from fasting, and I am skin and bones. I am a joke to people everywhere; when they see me, they shake their heads in scorn.

Help me, O LORD my God! Save me because of your unfailing love. Let them see that this is your doing, that you yourself have done it, LORD. Then let them curse me if they like, but you will bless me! When they attack me, they will be disgraced! But I, your servant, will go right on rejoicing! May my accusers be clothed with disgrace; may their humiliation cover them like a cloak. But I will give repeated thanks to the LORD, praising him to everyone. For he stands beside the needy, ready to save them from those who condemn them.
Psalm 109:20-31 NLT

May the Lord do these things to those who accuse me, to those who speak evil against me. (V20 ICB) This is what David desires of the Lord: that he be blessed and his enemies suffer.

Is it okay that we do not fully understand? I love the great 19th century pastor Charles Spurgeon’s thoughts on this verse:

Thousands of God’s people are perplexed with this psalm, and we fear we have contributed very little towards their enlightenment, and perhaps the notes we have gathered from others, since they display such a variety of view, may only increase the difficulty. What then? Is it not good for us sometimes to be made to feel that we are not yet able to understand all the word and mind of God? A thorough bewilderment, so long as it does not stagger our faith, may be useful to us by confounding our pride, arousing our faculties, and leading us to cry, “What I know not teach thou me.”

Charles Spurgeon, English preacher, 1834-1892

The end of Psalm 109 is a reminder that even during the hardest of times, God stands beside His children. David was suffering, but the Lord was with him. There is no where we can go, no hole too deep, no trial to terrible, that we are alone. God is with us in good times and in bad. He stands beside and upholds us. He protects us and watches over us. His eyes are always upon His children. During difficult times this is what we must hold on to.

The eyes of the LORD watch over those who do right; his ears are open to their cries for help.
Psalm 34:15 NLT

Father in heaven, when we do not understand your word, teach us. Help us to understand what you desire us to learn from Psalm 109. And as we study your word, may we draw closer to you and closer to the peace and comfort that you provide and have provided for your children since the beginning of time. We love you. We praise you. Strengthen us as we walk with you today. Amen.

He xoxo

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