Monday, September 21, 2015

The President and Psalm 109:8

What do we do with Psalm 109? You may have seen posts on Facebook suggesting that we should pray for our President by praying Psalm 109:8, “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.” Of course, verse 9 gives us a clearer picture of what the psalmist means, “Let his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.” While it might seem funny to tell people that we’re praying Psalm 109:8 for our President, Psalm 109 is nothing to joke about. These are the words of a very downtrodden person, desiring the death of his enemies.

Some people, such as C.S. Lewis, have suggested that it is best to leave Psalm 109 and other similar psalms alone. That seems to be the wrong approach when you consider that Peter didn’t stay away from these psalms when he quoted the book of Psalms as saying, “Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his office let another take.” He saw it as the inspired word of God and so should we. He saw it as something to use for guidance and so should we. Even so, this is still a bitter curse against the psalmist’s enemies.

In Acts 1:20, when Peter referred to Psalm 109:8, he wasn’t praying it. Instead, he saw a similarity between it and what they had experienced with Judas. Judas was a man that they had loved and a man that Jesus loved and yet, Judas betrayed them. Peter didn’t have to pray that Judas would be judged for his actions, it had already happened and the punishment described in Psalms 109 had already been carried out. So, Peter had reason to believe that they should follow Psalm 109 a step farther and find someone to take Judas’ place.

People looking to pray Psalm 109 against people like our President have this idea that because he is doing stuff that is wrong, it is okay to curse him. Look at Psalm 109:4, 5. “For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer. And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love.” It is not appropriate for us to pray like Psalm 109 if we don’t love the people we are praying for.

David loved the people he was praying for. Perhaps this was his son he was praying for. You recall that his son tried to take David’s throne by sitting around and telling people, that things would be better for them if someone other than David was king. David loved his son, but his son still fought against him. That puts Psalm 109 in a very different perspective. Instead of this being David looking for God to be the sword with which he smites his enemies, this might be something else completely.

Suppose you have a friend that you have been praying for and you have seen the Lord answer those prayers. You have seen the hand of God working in their life and there’s hedge around them like the hedge God placed around Job. But in spite of you praying for their protection, they turn against you. You plead with them, hoping to restore the relationship, but they are not moved. They lie to your other friends. They steal from you. Nothing you say convinces them. You are at the end of your rope. That is when you start praying like David in Psalm 109. “Lord, you remember how I asked you to protect my friend? Take it all back. Let Satan do whatever he wants to him. Let him lose his money. Let him lose his family. Let him lose his life.”

It is similar to what is said in 1 Corinthians 5:5. There are some people who should be delivered to Satan for destruction, in hopes that they will see the error of their ways and repent. If our desire for Barak Obama is simply to get him out of office, we have no business praying Psalm 109:8. I very much doubt the Lord will hear that prayer. But if out of our love for Barak Obama we seek to release him from the protection we’ve been asking the Lord for, that’s a different story. Our primary desire should be that Barak Obama repent of his sins and accept Jesus Christ. Of course, it makes no sense for us to pray for God’s protection to be removed if we haven’t been praying for him to be protected in the first place.

So, what do we do with Psalm 109? We follow it as the inspired Word of God, but before we start using it to pronounce curses on people, we need to do like David and love them first.