Do me a favor and please read Psalm 109.
If we remember that the psalms were written by people in their time and with their own need(s) in mind (which we should always do) then when we come to psalms like this one it takes the sting out. When we FAIL to allow the writer’s voice to be heard then we read texts like this and we struggle. Seeking that days be few (8), that their children be without a father or husband to their mom (9)? Asking God to make their children wandering beggars (10) who are never shown kindness (12)? What’s the deal!? Well, again…first we must allow the voice of the writer to stand.
So let’s let it stand. But let’s not end there. Let’s go deeper. Let’s remember that this is about God…and not you.
The psalms are a collection of hopes, dreams, thankfulness, prayers, petitions, and sorrows. We have theological ideas and messianic hope and throughout it all we have God’s hand moving. When we read this psalm specifically we must recognize that the psalmist, as well as you and I, declare that God’s sovereign rule is over all. That he is holy, good, pure, and righteous. And because he is those things he doesn’t stand for sin, corruption, pain, and anything that people do to harm others. So what happens when the author, being a good “follower” of God, comes across evil, anger, and people who wish to harm God’s people? They pray for God’s holy and righteous hand to snuff out and remove evil. They pray for the reality that they declare to become the reality that they see.
In other words: God deals with sin…so God…come deal with this sin.
This is the prayer we get in Psalm 109. A prayer for the reality and truth of God to go against the wicked that was persecuting, hunting, and causing pain to David. Was it severe? We assume so. Are David’s words severe? Absolutely. But again these are David’s thoughts – not mine or yours. And ultimately we must remember that everything David is seeking God to do…God WILL do. Evil will not win, succeed, be prosperous, or continue on. And I think all of us know that. The struggle is that we find it uncomfortable to ask for the destruction or suffering of others. WE squirm in our seat when someone wishes that others will fall. And especially in cases like this psalm we get uncomfortable when the requests get specific and vivid. It begins to feel like David is going over the top. Why else would he be so specific?
So what do we do? First off, we don’t ignore psalms like this one. We don’t ignore psalms like 137:9 that declare, “Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.” or any other psalms that seem, sound, and ARE disturbing. Listen to the psalm, hear their words, and seek to understand what they are going through, the pain they are experiencing, and the hope the cling to in the God who listens and response. And then take a step back and look at the bigger picture. Take in who God is, what we declare, and who scripture reveals. In this case, while it may be vivid, painful, and uncomfortable, we see the hope and declaration of Christ throughout these 31 verses.
Will God remain silent (vs1)? No. Christ comes as the physical response to evil, pain, and suffering.
Will evil oppose enemies (vs 6)? Yes. Evil is a reality and evil simply seeks self and will try to snuff out more evil. So if you think you’re bad? There’s someone worse than you who will not band together to help you but will seek to destroy YOU so THEY can succeed. And we have stories of God allowing evil to APPEAR to succeed in order to punish others (read Lamentations or Habakkuk).
Verses 8-15 simply ask that the sinful will not succeed – and they won’t. God will not allow that to happen. It may not be in this lifetime, but it will end.
Want deliverance from oppression (vs 21-25)? Jesus Christ
What about crying out to be saved, according to God’s unfailing love? (vs 26). Jesus Christ – love incarnate.
So the challenge in this psalm needs to not only be about allowing the voice of God’s people to speak authentic feelings in prayers, it not only needs to be about God’s stance against sin and evil REGARDLESS OF HOW WE FEEL, but we need to remember that it all points to Christ. Christ is the revealed response to the needs of people. Christ is the direct response to evil. Christ is the final stamp that evil will not continue to move forward, take root, and prosper. Christ is the incarnate, physical love, of God.
So let’s not skip over the psalms we are uncomfortable with. Instead, let us realize the truth they speak …even when it feels painful to read. Because ultimately while this may be the most painful of the psalms…it clearly speaks the truth and hope of the gospels.