Weds 27 April - Psalm 109
1 My God, whom I praise,
do not remain silent,
2 for people who are wicked and deceitful
have opened their mouths against me;
they have spoken against me with lying tongues.
3 With words of hatred they surround me;
they attack me without cause.
4 In return for my friendship they accuse me,
but I am a man of prayer.
5 They repay me evil for good,
and hatred for my friendship.
6 Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.
7 When he is tried, let him be found guilty,
and may his prayers condemn him.
8 May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.
9 May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow.
10 May his children be wandering beggars;
may they be drivena]">[a] from their ruined homes.
11 May a creditor seize all he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his labour.
12 May no one extend kindness to him
or take pity on his fatherless children.
13 May his descendants be cut off,
their names blotted out from the next generation.
14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord;
may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.
15 May their sins always remain before the Lord,
that he may blot out their name from the earth.
16 For he never thought of doing a kindness,
but hounded to death the poor
and the needy and the broken-hearted.
17 He loved to pronounce a curse –
may it come back on him.
He found no pleasure in blessing –
may it be far from him.
18 He wore cursing as his garment;
it entered into his body like water,
into his bones like oil.
19 May it be like a cloak wrapped about him,
like a belt tied for ever round him.
20 May this be the Lord’s payment to my accusers,
to those who speak evil of me.
21 But you, Sovereign Lord,
help me for your name’s sake;
out of the goodness of your love, deliver me.
22 For I am poor and needy,
and my heart is wounded within me.
23 I fade away like an evening shadow;
I am shaken off like a locust.
24 My knees give way from fasting;
my body is thin and gaunt.
25 I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
when they see me, they shake their heads.
26 Help me, Lord my God;
save me according to your unfailing love.
27 Let them know that it is your hand,
that you, Lord, have done it.
28 While they curse, may you bless;
may those who attack me be put to shame,
but may your servant rejoice.
29 May my accusers be clothed with disgrace
and wrapped in shame as in a cloak.
30 With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord;
in the great throng of worshippers I will praise him.
31 For he stands at the right hand of the needy,
to save their lives from those who would condemn them.
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Meditation on Psalm 109
This is another of those psalms in which the author is calling out to God for deliverance. In this psalm he is calling for deliverance from those who are falsely accusing him.
- Verse 1 MY GOD…
David starts out on a solid footing as he recognises his relationship with God - ‘MY God…’ Here is the personal relationship that he has.
This is the personal relationship that we can have through Jesus who made the way open for us to come into the presence of God.
His next statement is a real heart-cry in light of what he is about to say.
He calls on God – ‘Do not be silent…’ ‘Do not remain silent…’ ‘Don’t keep silent…’
Andrew Peterson, a singer/songwriter wrote a song called ‘The silence of God’.
The first verse says…
‘It's enough to drive a man crazy; it'll break a man's faith
It's enough to make him wonder if he's ever been sane
When he's bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
And the heaven's only answer is the silence of God’
C.S. Lewis wrote about the death of his beloved wife, Joy. In his book, ‘A grief observed’, which he wrote just before he died in 1963, he says, ‘Meanwhile, where is God? . . . When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him . . . if you remember yourself and turn to Him with gratitude and praise, you will be – or so it feels – welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence. You may as well turn away. The longer you wait, the more emphatic the silence will become . . .
Why is He so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?’
Maybe you have experienced the silence of God. We could dwell on this alone in this meditation but we have a few more verses to consider! Just remember the meaning of the name given to Jesus – ‘Immanuel -GOD WITH US’ and be assured that He is with you even if you are overwhelmed with His silence.
- Verses 2-5 MY ENEMIES
The psalmist is the focus of much abuse – verbal, emotional and spiritual.
His enemies are…
- ‘wicked and deceitful’
- they hate me
Things haven’t changed much down through the centuries, have they?
We have just been thinking about the death and resurrection of Jesus and rejoicing that He who died is alive for evermore.
But think back to His enemies – the religious leaders, the teachers of the law, the people. The characteristics that David talks about are applied to the way Jesus was treated.
Come down through the centuries since Jesus ascended back to heaven – His people around the world are subject to people whose persecution is marked by the same characteristics.
There is a glimmer of hope when David says that he is ‘a man of prayer’. The actual translation of that phrase from the Hebrew is, apparently, quite difficult. It could mean that he is praying for his enemies specifically or that, in general, he is praying. Whichever is correct, the need to pray is urgent.
- Verses 6-15 MY PRAYER
These are hard verses to understand. They seem to conjure up such negative attitudes towards others or, more particularly, against one.
Notice that David changes from ‘them’, ‘they’ to ‘he’, as if he is singling out the leader of the gang.
This is a prayer with no holds barred.
This is a prayer that the punishment should fit the crime – i.e. if possible, the punishment should undo the harm done by the crime.
Michael Wilcock summarises these verses as a ‘blistering attack’ on this man, this leader of the gang in 5
- his personal guilt – verses 6-7
- his personal punishment – verses 8-9
- his possessions – verses 10-11
- his children – verses 12-13
- his parents – verses 14-15
In the light of the New Testament teaching on how o react towards enemies, these verses seem right out of order. In Matthew 5:43-48 Jesus, when going through His Sermon on the Mount, is very clear and challenging as to how we should respond to our enemies. The next section gives us some clues as to David’s reactions.
- Verses 16-20 YOU DON’T KNOW MY ENEMY
David then outlines his reasons for such an imprecatory prayer (a prayer that invokes judgment, calamity or curses upon one’s enemies or those perceived as the enemies of God).
The characteristics of such an enemy are:
- lack of kindness
- no care for the poor, the needy or the broken-hearted
- enjoys cursing others
- not interested in blessing
- cursing came naturally to him
To which David would add, in true Anglican style (!) ‘Lord, hear my prayer.’
- Verses 21-25 IT HURTS
And that is why David appeals to and pleads with the ‘Sovereign LORD’ because of the goodness of the LORD’s love.
- ‘help me’
- ‘deliver me’
David recognises his own weaknesses and failings. He recognises that he is
- ‘poor and needy’
- lost weight
- laughed at
Can you not hear people around the world crying out to the Sovereign Lord today?
Yes, it hurts.
Isn’t that how Jesus prayed when He was in agony on the Cross – “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”
Isn’t that how the people in war-torn nations are praying?
- Verses 26-31 A FINAL PRAYER AND A FINAL CCOMMITMENT
Again, notice the personal response.
- ‘Help me, LORD my God’
He longs that God’s unfailing love will carry him through.
He longs that how the LORD responds will be a testimony to others.
He longs for the blessing of the LORD.
Therefore., he makes a personal commitment…
- ‘I will extol (give thanks abundantly) the LORD’
- ‘I will praise the LORD in the midst of many people’
Why should he respond this way after his outburst against his enemy/enemies?
- because the LORD stands near
- because the LORD saves lives
We, too, have the Holy Spirit living within us, as John reminds us – John 16:7: Jesus says, “I will ask the Father and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever.’
The Greek word for advocate is ‘Paraclete’ which literally means ‘someone who comes alongside us’.
We are not on our own – we have the promise that God the Father, God the Son and God the Spirit are with us.
What a faithful God have I!
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