Psalms 109:0 ¶ To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.
This psalm of David was given to the chief Musician, the director of the Levitical choir, as a song. It is certainly not a song that would make my playlist. It was birthed from a time of depression and anger, but ends in words that praise the LORD.
Psalms 109:1 ¶ Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise;
Psalms 109:2 For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.
Psalms 109:3 They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause.
David starts this prayer calling out to God as the One he honors and glorifies. He asks God to act on his behalf against those that have spoken lies against him, words of slander, deceit and hate that are not justified.
Notice that David’s focus is on slander and false accusations. The spoken word is a powerful weapon of hurt and destruction. Scripture clearly affirms this truth.
James 3:8 “But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.”
Psalms 109:4 For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer.
Psalms 109:5 And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love.
David feels betrayed because these are people that he has loved and prayed for. He has treated them with love and goodness; they have reciprocated with evil and hatred.
Spurgeon: “True bravery alone can teach a man to leave his traducers unanswered, and carry the case unto the Lord.”
Chuck Smith: “So the best thing when someone is lying about me, someone is trying to cut me down and all, the best thing you can do is what David did, give yourself to prayer. Don"t get into the physical. You"ll only get wiped out. But retreat into prayer, and man, you can blast him to pieces and they don"t even know where it"s coming from.”
Psalms 109:6 ¶ Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand.
Psalms 109:7 When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin.
At this point, David seems to be focusing on one particular man, probably the ringleader. He asks God to place his enemy under the authority of a wicked man to face an accuser (Satan, the father of lies). He asks God to let his enemy face judgment and condemnation.
John 8:44 “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”
Spurgeon: “…those who serve Satan may expect to have his company, his assistance, his temptations, and at last his doom.”
“let his prayer become sin” - This is a confusing statement. The Complete Jewish Bible offered this understanding: “may even his plea be counted a sin.”
The EBC Abridged offered this insight: “Through the instrumentality of human institutions and by means of wicked people, other wicked people are condemned, and in this process God’s righteousness is vindicated.”
Psalms 109:8 Let his days be few; and let another take his office.
These words immediately took my thoughts to the words of Peter when the disciples decided to choose a man to replace Judas Iscariot, the one that betrayed Jesus, as one of the twelve. Just as David’s enemy, Judas betrayed Jesus without cause, acting with evil against one who had only done him good.
Acts 1:15–26 “And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said…Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry….For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take….And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.”
It’s interesting to me that Peter confidently declared these words of David to applied to Judas. We know he was correct since his words were inspired by the Holy Spirit.
2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God….”
Psalms 109:9 Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.
Psalms 109:10 Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.
These verses are hard for me to process. I can understand his wanting this man dead so he can’t continue to make him miserable. I don’t understand his desire for judgment against his children—unless these children were adults that had joined with their father in spreading lies about David as well.
Spurgeon: “These awful maledictions are not for common men to use, but for judges, such as David was, to pronounce over the enemies of God and man. A judge may sentence a man to death whatever the consequences may be to the criminal's family, and in this there will be no feeling of private revenge, but simply the doing of justice because evil must be punished.”
Another very thought-provoking observation by Spurgeon: “We confess that as we read some of these verses we have need of all our faith and reverence to accept them as the voice of inspiration; but the exercise is good for the soul, for it educates our sense of ignorance, and tests our teachability. Yes, Divine Spirit, we can and do believe that even these dread words from which we shrink have a meaning consistent with the attributes of the Judge of all the earth, though his name is LOVE. How this may be we shall know hereafter.”
Psalms 109:11 Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labour.
Psalms 109:12 Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favour his fatherless children.
Psalms 109:13 Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.
In these verses, David is basically asking God to exact vengeance against this man. He prays that the man will become the victim of other evil men. He wants him to experience what it is like to be shown no mercy; again, he calls for his children to experience the same. He also prays that the LORD will put an end to the ability of this man’s children to produce heirs, that he is left with no one to carry on his name.
Psalms 109:14 Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the LORD; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out.
Psalms 109:15 Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.
David continues by asking God to extend His vengeance to include the man’s forefathers, singling out his mother. It would seem that he blames her the most for this man’s wicked character. David’s desire is that all memory of this man’s family be erased.
Psalms 109:16 Because that he remembered not to shew mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, that he might even slay the broken in heart.
David identifies his complaint against his enemy more specifically. He was a merciless man. He persecuted the depressed (from Hebrew for “poor”) and destitute (from Hebrew for “needy”) man with the intent of killing him—in context, I think David is referring to himself.
Psalms 109:17 As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him: as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him.
Psalms 109:18 As he clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment, so let it come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones.
Psalms 109:19 Let it be unto him as the garment which covereth him, and for a girdle wherewith he is girded continually.
In these verses, David is basically asking God to let this man reap what he has sown.
Galatians 6:7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
Psalms 109:20 Let this be the reward of mine adversaries from the LORD, and of them that speak evil against my soul.
With these words, David expands his request to include all those that have spoken evil against him unjustly.
Psalms 109:21 ¶ But do thou for me, O GOD the Lord, for thy name’s sake: because thy mercy is good, deliver thou me.
Psalms 109:22 For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.
Psalms 109:23 I am gone like the shadow when it declineth: I am tossed up and down as the locust.
Psalms 109:24 My knees are weak through fasting; and my flesh faileth of fatness.
Psalms 109:25 I became also a reproach unto them: when they looked upon me they shaked their heads.
David turns his attention from his enemy to himself. He asks God to deliver him in light of His great mercy and in honor of His name. He is basically saying that people will judge God in light of what happens to David since he so publicly identified as a man committed to honoring God.
He continues to plead for God’s mercy by declaring himself to be depressed, destitute and heartbroken (cf v16). He is so sick of heart that he hasn’t been able to eat and his body is wasting away toward death. David is utterly shamed and disgraced by how others react when they see him.
Spurgeon: “God himself has performed his grandest deeds of grace for the honour of his name, and his people know that this is the most potent argument with him. What the Lord himself has guarded with sacred jealousy we should reverence with our whole hearts and rely upon without distrust.”
Psalms 109:26 Help me, O LORD my God: O save me according to thy mercy:
Psalms 109:27 That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, LORD, hast done it.
David repeats his call for the LORD to save him in light of His mercy. He asks that it be done so as to clearly reveal that his salvation is of the LORD.
Psalms 109:28 Let them curse, but bless thou: when they arise, let them be ashamed; but let thy servant rejoice.
Psalms 109:29 Let mine adversaries be clothed with shame, and let them cover themselves with their own confusion, as with a mantle.
David knows that he has nothing to fear from his enemies if the LORD responds to him with blessing. He prays that his enemies will be the ones put to shame for their actions against him.
“let thy servant rejoice” - Another gem from Spurgeon: “It ought to be our greatest joy that the Lord is honoured in our experience; the mercy itself ought not so much to rejoice us as the glory which is thereby brought to him who so graciously bestows it.”
Psalms 109:30 I will greatly praise the LORD with my mouth; yea, I will praise him among the multitude.
Psalms 109:31 For he shall stand at the right hand of the poor, to save him from those that condemn his soul.
David closes his song with a commitment to praise the LORD, publicly thanking him for delivering him from his enemies.