Does Psalm 109 describe what should happen to President Obama?

Max stirred up  a load of you know what over at the Arkansas Times Blog concerning the growing cottage industry for t-shirts and such denouncing the President in the words of Psalm 109. Is this appropriate?

This passage is part of what is called the “imprecatory” Psalms. It calls for retribution against an enemy. For starters, here’s the complete text. After all, if we are going to look at the Bible seriously, there has to be some context. This is the NASV rendering.

For the choir director. A Psalm of David.

1God of my praise,
Do not be silent!
2For they have opened the wicked and deceitful mouth against me;
They have spoken against me with a lying tongue.
3They have also surrounded me with words of hatred,
And fought against me without cause.
4In return for my love they act as my accusers;
But I am in prayer.
5Thus they have repaid me evil for good
And hatred for my love.
6Appoint a wicked man over him,
And let an accuser stand at his right hand.
7When he is judged, let him come forth guilty,
And let his prayer become sin.
8Let his days be few;
Let another take his office.
9Let his children be fatherless
And his wife a widow.
10Let his children wander about and beg;
And let them seek sustenance far from their ruined homes.
11Let the creditor seize all that he has,
And let strangers plunder the product of his labor.
12Let there be none to extend lovingkindness to him,
Nor any to be gracious to his fatherless children.
13Let his posterity be cut off;
In a following generation let their name be blotted out.
14Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD,
And do not let the sin of his mother be blotted out.
15Let them be before the LORD continually,
That He may cut off their memory from the earth;
16Because he did not remember to show lovingkindness,
But persecuted the afflicted and needy man,
And the despondent in heart, to put them to death.
17He also loved cursing, so it came to him;
And he did not delight in blessing, so it was far from him.
18But he clothed himself with cursing as with his garment,
And it entered into his body like water
And like oil into his bones.
19Let it be to him as a garment with which he covers himself,
And for a belt with which he constantly girds himself.
20Let this be the reward of my accusers from the LORD,
And of those who speak evil against my soul.
21But You, O GOD, the Lord, deal kindly with me for Your name’s sake;
Because Your lovingkindness is good, deliver me;
22For I am afflicted and needy,
And my heart is wounded within me.
23I am passing like a shadow when it lengthens;
I am shaken off like the locust.
24My knees are weak from asting,
And my flesh has grown lean, without fatness.
25I also have become a reproach to them;
When they see me, they wag their head.
26Help me, O LORD my God;
Save me according to Your lovingkindness.
27And let them know that this is Your hand;
You, LORD, have done it.
28Let them curse, but You bless;
When they arise, they shall be ashamed,
But Your servant shall be glad.
29Let my accusers be clothed with dishonor,
And let them cover themselves with their own shame as with a robe.
30With my mouth I will give thanks abundantly to the LORD;
And in the midst of many I will praise Him.
31For He stands at the right hand of the needy,
To save him from those who judge his soul.

The center of conservative criticism of President Obama is v. 8, “Let another take his office.” I am told that some early versions of the King James translation correctly render the language as “take his possessions”

The tone of Ps. 109 is intense and some might think that Christians should not ever utter such a prayer as is attributed here to King David. The ESV Study Bible has some background.

This is an individual lament, geared to a situation in which a faithful Israelite is suffering the attacks of vicious accusers who return evil to him for the good he has done to them (vv. 1–5). It contains an extensive prayer that his accusers (or their chief) would receive what they deserve (vv. 6–20), and finishes with a prayer that appeals to, and rests confidently on, God’s “steadfast love” (vv. 21–31).

If we are to follow the rule of allowing Scripture to interpret itself, there is some assistance available in Acts 1, in which the replacement for Judas the betrayer of Jesus is being discussed. In Acts 1; 20, Peter directly cites Ps. 109; 8 and Ps. 69; 25 as a prediction of Judas; treason.

New Testament Christians should know that the passage in Ps. 109; 8 is a direct prediction of Judas being replaced as an apostle after his death. Let’s consider the larger context of the passage.

8Let his days be few;
Let another take his office.
9Let his children be fatherless
And his wife a widow.

If one’s days are “few” and his wife is a “widow,” it must logically follow that the object ot the prayers is dead. Can conservative opponents of the President be so biblically illiterate not to understand this?

You may well wonder abut the general tone of the Psalm. Is it appropriate for a Christian to pray to the God of love for revenge on his enemies? We know that the person being prayed about is liar (v. 2-3) and great harm has been caused by the misrepresentation. In fact, as was the case with Judas, the representations resulted in death.

16Because he did not remember to show lovingkindness,
But persecuted the afflicted and needy man,
And the despondent in heart, to put them to death.

To be perhaps a bit too concise about this entire passage, murder and lying are joined in a single offense related by King David against some of his false accusers and referenced by Peter as a foreshadowing of Judas. One particular false accuser leveled charges against David which may be seen as foreshadowing Christ’s passion.

5 When King David came to v Bahurim, there came out a man of the family of the house of Saul, whose name was w Shimei, the son of Gera, and as he came x he cursed continually. 6 And he threw stones at David and at all the servants of King David, and all the people and all the mighty men were on his right hand and on his left. 7 And Shimei said as he x cursed, “Get out, get out, you man of blood, you worthless man! 8 The Lord y has avenged on you all z the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned, and the Lord has given the kingdom into the hand of your son Absalom. See, your evil is on you, for you are a man of blood.” (ESV)

Of course, those familiar with the story know that David was completely blameless of any blood against Saul or his house. Shimei and Judas are both traitors.

So David had good reason to ask God to bring judgment against his enemies. That is quite a bit different from taking matters into one’s own hands. It is not necessarily wrong to seek divine justice in the face of grave wrongdoing.

Is it appropriate for political opponents to pray for the President’s death or an end to his term. Scripture has a few things to say about political leaders.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 v for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and w dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and x it is pleasing in the sight of y God our Savior, 4 who desires z all people to be saved and a to come to b the knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim. 2; 1-4 ESV)

Romans 13 at least hints that we ought to respect the President.

Let every person p be subject to the governing authorities. For q there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you r will receive his approval, 4 for s he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, t an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also u for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 v Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

And there is this …

Remind them x to be submissive to rulers and authorities, y to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 z to speak evil of no one, a to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and b to show perfect courtesy toward all people (Titus 3; 1-3).

But Christians must not submit to immoral laws and are certainly allowed to use their civil rights to appeal to government. We are commanded to pray for civil rulers and we must speak out against bad public policy. But, just maybe, it is a bit over the top to call for President Obama’s death, as is suggested in Ps. 109.

This has been rather brief and does not begin to do justice to the larger subject, but I think you get my drift.

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About patlynch
I am a broadcaster in Arkansas, a former freelance writer and political columnist in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Writing Coach. Speaker. Director of the Christian Foundations for Ministry program, and presently enrolled in the Anglican School of Ministry Master of Ministry program.

One Response to Does Psalm 109 describe what should happen to President Obama?

  1. jacksmith says:

    Urgent!! Robert Reich on your healthcare http://bit.ly/SAQ7a

    Why A Strong Public Option Is Essential – By jacksmith – Working Class

    Robert Reich explains the pubic option: http://bit.ly/dDYSJ

    Hollywood Supports The Public Option 🙂 http://bit.ly/3XLwPi

    Beautiful HEATHER GRAHAM http://bit.ly/12sRYD 🙂

    It’s not just because more than two thirds of the American people want a single payer health care system. And if they cant have a single payer system 77% of all Americans want a strong government-run public option on day one (86% of democrats, 75% of independents, and 72% republicans). Basically everyone.

    It’s not just because according to a new AARP POLL: 86 percent of seniors want universal healthcare security for All, including 93% of Democrats, 87% of Independents, and 78% of Republicans. With 79% of seniors supporting creating a new strong Government-run public option plan, available immediately. Including 89% of Democrats, 80% of Independents, and 61% of Republicans, STUNNING!!

    It’s not just because it will lower cost. Because a strong public option will dramatically lower cost for everyone. And dramatically improved the quality of care everyone receives in America and around the World. Rich, middle class, and poor a like.

    It’s not just because it will save trillions of dollars and prevent the needless deaths of millions more of YOU, caused by a rush to profit by the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!

    It’s not just because every expert in every field, including economist, and Nobel laureates all agree that free market based healthcare systems don’t work. Never have and never will. The US has the only truly free market based healthcare system in the World. And as you all know now, IT IS A DISASTER!

    It’s not just because providing or denying medically necessary care for profit motivations is wrong. Because it is WRONG! It’s professionally, ethically, and morally REPUGNANT!, Animalistic, VILE and EVIL.

    THE REASON THE PUBLIC OPTION IS ESSENTIAL:

    The public option is ESSENTIAL because over 200 million of you are trapped in the forest of the wolves. Which is the forest of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! With no way out except through needless inhumane suffering, and DEATH. While the wolves tear at your flesh, and rip you limb from lib. Then feast on your lifeless bodies like a dead carcase for transplant parts.

    At the most vulnerable times of your lives (when you were sick and hurting), millions of you have had to fight and loose cruel, but heroic battles. Fighting against the big guns of the DISGRACEFUL, GREED DRIVEN, PRIVATE FOR PROFIT MEDICAL INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX! in the forest of the wolves. All because you have no place else to go. You have no other CHOICE!

    But the PUBLIC OPTION will give you someplace safe to go. And it will give us someplace safe to take you. The public option will be your refugium (your refuge). Where the wolves cannot get at you when your down, hurting, and vulnerable. Where everyone who needs it can find rest, security, comfort and the care they need. Protected by the BIG GUNS of We The People Of The United States. THE MOST POWERFUL PEOPLE AND COUNTRY ON EARTH.

    This is why it is so critical that we do not lead another 50 million vulnerable, uninsured Americans into the forest of the wolves, without the protections of a Strong Government-run MEDICARE like public option. We The People Of The United States MUST NOT LET THAT HAPPEN to any more of our fellow Americans. If healthcare reform does not contain a strong MEDICARE like public option on day one. YOU MUST! KILL IT. Or you will do far more harm than good. And millions more will die needlessly. Rich, middle class, and poor a like.

    To those who would continue to obstruct good and true healthcare reform for the American people, and who seek to trap millions more vulnerable Americans in the forest of the wolves. We will continue to fight you. We are prepared to wage all out war against you, and will eagerly DESTROY! you. Time…is…UP! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED! No Co-op’s! No Triggers! NO INDIVIDUAL MANDATES! without a Strong MEDICARE like public option on day one.

    Healthcare reform can be the GREATEST! Accomplishment of our time and century. A time when future generations may say of us, that we were all, AMERICAS GREATEST GENERATIONS.

    BUT WE MUST ACT!

    I therefore call on all my fellow Americans and the peoples of the World. To join us in this fight so that we may finish becoming the better America that we aspire to be for everyone.

    SPREAD THE WORD!

    I have been privileged to be witness as many of you fought, and struggled to take your first breath, and your last breath on this earth. Rich, middle class, and poor a like. Life is precious.

    Whatever the cost. WE! MUST SUCCEED.

    God Bless You My Fellow Human Beings

    jacksmith – Working Class

    ATTENTION!! Congress Has The Votes Needed To Pass A Public Option – TODAY http://bit.ly/TCq7O

    Things You Can Do To Help NOW! http://www.everydaycitizen.com/2009/09/tired_of_watching_people_die_n.html

    A majority of voters would rather have a Democrats only bill with a Public Option. Than a bipartisan bill without a Public Option.

    A state based insurance plan is NOT!! a Public Option. Nor is it a Strong, National, Medicare like Public Option.

    No Triggers! http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jason-rosenbaum/a-trigger-for-the-public_b_277910.html

    Triggers http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-sirota/weve-seen-these-triggers_b_283583.html

    Krugman on heathcare (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/25/why-markets-cant-cure-healthcare/)

    Senator Bernie Sanders on healthcare (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSM8t_cLZgk&feature=player_embedded)

    John Garamendi on the Public Option and the Grassroots: http://bit.ly/TJMty

    Howard Dean on the Public Option http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SKfW2dUnow&feature=player_embedded

    We’re Number 37! in quality of health care http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yVgOl3cETb4&feature=player_embedded

    Twitter search (#welovethenhs #NHS #hc09 #hcr #healthcar #obama #p2 #topprog #) Check it out.

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