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Sunday, August 08, 2010

Psalm 109

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. O God of my praise, do not be silent; for the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me; they spoke against me with a lying tongue. And they surrounded me with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause. For my love they are my foes; but I am in prayer. And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love. Set a wicked man over him; and let an adversary stand at his right hand, when he is judged, let him be condemned; and let his prayer become sin. Let his days be few; let another take his office. Let his sons be fatherless, and his wife a widow. Let his sons always beg and be vagabonds, and seek food out of their ruins. Let the money-lender lay a snare for all that is his; and let strangers take the fruit of his labor. Let there be none to give mercy to him; nor any to favor his fatherless children. Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out. Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered to Jehovah; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out. Let them be always before Jehovah, that He may cut off their memory from the earth, because he did not remember to do mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, and sought to kill the broken-hearted. Yea, he loved cursing, so let it come to him; he delighted not in blessing, and it was far from him. As he clothed himself with cursing, as with his robe, so let it come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones. Let it be to him as the robe which covers him, and for a girdle with which he is always clothed. This is the reward of my foes from Jehovah, and of them who speak evil against my soul. But You, Lord Jehovah, deal kindly with me for Your name's sake; because Your mercy is good, deliver me. For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me. As a shadow when it is stretched out, I am gone; I am shaken off like the locust. My knees stumble from fasting; and my flesh is losing its fatness. And I became a shame to them; they looked on me; they shook their heads. Help me, O Jehovah my God; save me according to Your mercy; and they will know that this is Your hand; that You, Jehovah, have done it. They will curse, but You will bless; they arise, and are ashamed; but let Your servant rejoice. Let my foes be clothed with shame, and let them cover themselves with their own shame, as with a cloak. I will greatly praise Jehovah with my mouth; yea, I will praise Him among the multitude. For He shall stand at the right hand of the poor, to save him from those who condemn his soul.
(Psalm 109:1-31)

This psalm was written by David either while he was being persecuted by King Saul or when he fled from his evil son, Absalom. It is also prophetic of Judas and the Jews who would crucify Christ. And, finally, it has a general application to those who are saved and are called Righteous through Christ and who are persecuted by wicked men.

David was accused of things he did not do by King Saul. Jesus was accused by the Jewish leaders of things He did not do. We are often accused of things we did not do. Have you ever experienced that? Probably everybody has. It's a gut wrenching experience. Being wrongly accused especially by those who are doing what they accuse you of doing. For instance a liar calling you a liar. The injustice of it all makes it particularly hurtful. If I was a liar and someone accused me of being a liar then I might be mad but I would have to admit it was true. But to be truthful and as honest as you know how to be and then called a liar by a liar makes the wound all the more painful.

Go back and read through the Psalm again and notice all the words that have to do with our mouths.
"do not be silent"
"in prayer"
"the mouth of the wicked"
"the mouth of the deceitful"
"a lying tongue"
"words of hatred"
"he loved cursing"
"clothed himself with cursing,"
"speak evil"
"They will curse"
"I will greatly praise Jehovah with my mouth"

Notice most of the phrases about the mouth are about evil ways which people use their mouths... they accuse, lie, speak words of hatred, curse, speak evil. But David takes his cause to the Lord. He uses his tongue to pray and ask God not to be silent. Then he ends the Psalm with another way of using his tongue - by praising God!

This tells me that even when people falsely accuse you, speak evil and hatred about you, curse you, and lie about you there is a correct response. You should take it to the Lord in prayer. You don't have to get down on their level and duke it out with nasty words. In order to keep yourself sinless in this situation, do the right thing by keeping quiet and pray. Pray that God will help you, God will bless you and that God will see to it that justice is done. We can talk to God and tell Him how we are feeling. We can pray and tell God how angry we are, how hurt we are. We can dump our raw emotions in His lap. Once we've expended our hurt, then we can ask God to right the wrongs. And then finish our prayer with praise because we can know that He is all powerful, all knowing and always in our corner. David was not sinless, but his heart was right before God. Often in the psalms David confesses his own sins: “For I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin” (Ps. 38:18). “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Ps. 139:23-24).

What if we have done something wrong? What if their accusations are true? I.e. what if I lie and someone accuses me of lying? It still hurts our feelings and we get mad but we realize they are right. Guess what? God may be allowing this situation and the guilt you feel to bring you to repentance. Again, go to the Lord in prayer. Ask His forgiveness. Talk to Him and get it off your chest. None of us are sinless. Once you've confessed and asked forgiveness, you are ready to ask God to take care of the situation and heal. Sometimes God calls you to do some action to complete your healing such as saying "I'm sorry" or paying something back. Obey and you will know what it is to be free and released of that sin! We've all been there. You aren't the only one that has made a mistake. By taking care of it quickly you will experience being released and having no more guilt. And don't let satan continue to accuse you after you've taken it to God and asked forgiveness. Satan loves to keep us obsessed with guilt but God loves to release us from guilt. So ask and accept His forgiveness.

Are you the one that has been using your mouth wrongly? Are you the one that has accused? Are you the one that has lied about someone? Have you spread evil and wicked rumors? Have you cursed someone? You are not alone! Yep, everyone of us so-called Christians have done it at one time or another. We are sinners saved by grace and not good works. It is so easy to use our mouths in a sinful way. But it is a sin that can be forgiven. If you know you have done these things then go to God and ask His forgiveness. He is ready to forgive a broken and contrite heart. Don't make excuses for yourself. Don't justify what you've done. Don't try to absolve yourself by saying, "They had it coming." Simply go to God in prayer and confess your sin and ask His forgiveness. Obey Him if He asks you to do something. And try to do better next time. He will forgive and forgive again and again as long as you are sincerely sorry. Oh what a wonderful God we have!

Is your heart wounded? Do you feel like David felt? Let's see what are some of his expressions of hurt were:
"I am poor and needy"
"my heart is wounded within"
"As a shadow when it is stretched out, I am gone"
"I am shaken off like the locust"
"My knees stumble from fasting; and my flesh is losing its fatness."
"I became a shame to them"

David tells God how he feels. He talks to God and lets out all the hurt and pain and even anger. It is not sinful to feel anger. But you should deal with it the healthy way. Take it to God and let God handle the situation. You can freely express yourself to Him. He's better than any psychiatrist! You can talk to another human being until you are blue in the face but they can't do one single thing to make your situation better. They can listen and pat your arm and hug you and cluck over you but when it comes right down to it, they cannot take the hurt and pain away or solve the situation that caused it. They may want to, but they can't really change things. But God wants to listen to you, He wants to hear your side of the story, He knows everything about what you are going through, He can help you with your emotions and HE CAN CHANGE THINGS! He has the power to change things! Miracles can happen!

David was so emotionally overwrought that he was weak and losing weight. He felt as though he were slowly being destroyed. When day declines, a shadow lengthens, it becomes longer and longer, till it vanishes in the darkness. That's the way David was feeling. He felt as though he wasn't important. A locust is a small, defenseless bug and if one lands on you long enough to get your attention, you can easily brush it off. David felt like that locust. He felt extraneous, unwanted, as though he were, not only unneeded, but even an irritation easily brushed off. He thought people felt ashamed to be seen with him.

I've struggled with depression of and on for my whole life. I've often felt these very things. David expressed exactly how I've felt at times. But David didn't stop there and wallow in his misery. What did he do? He prayed to God and expressed all his feelings and then began to praise God. We need to pray and then make ourselves praise. We may not feel like it, but our feelings don't have anything to do with how worthy God is to be praised. We must make a sacrifice of praise. We praise God despite how we feel. We give Him the glory due His Name! And it's not just to make God feel better. God feels just fine whether we praise Him or not. It starts to increase our faith and makes us feel better!

Why did David want all these terrible things to happen to his enemies? Isn't that sinful?

Psalm 109 is very troubling to most because it is perhaps the strongest imprecatory psalm in the psalter. David, the author of the psalm, as indicated in the superscription, calls upon God to destroy his enemies in the most horrible ways. According to Perowne, there are no less than 30 anathemas pronounced upon David’s enemies in this one psalm. Prayers of imprecation for the destruction of the wicked are to be found throughout the entire Word of God.

David is not sinless (as we mentioned earlier) but he has faithfully repented and asked forgiveness. In this particular incidence, he claims to have treated his enemies right. "And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love".

(1) God hears imprecations from those who have clean hands and a clean heart. Imprecations are effective only when we see sin as God does and when we ask Him to deal with sin as He has promised to deal with it in His Word.
(2) Imprecations are effective against those who are truly wicked, those who are not just our enemies, but God’s enemies. Psalm 109 is NOT a “voodoo” curse. You cannot call down fire on someone just because you don't like them or they cause you a problem. Imprecations are prayers for the punishment of the wicked. God knows who the truly wicked are. Proverbs says that a curse without basis has no effect: “Like a sparrow in its flitting, like a swallow in its flying, so a curse without cause does not alight” (Prov. 26:2).

Some of the imprecations are for the evil person to recieve the same punishment they have meted out so they can see what it feels like. "Set a wicked man over him; and let an adversary stand at his right hand, when he is judged, let him be condemned"

David is asking that they experience what it's like. How would they feel if the same thing happened to them. They may learn a much needed lesson and become more compassionate next time.

What about, "and let his prayer become sin"? God said that the prayers of the wicked are an abomination. Isaiah 1:15 "And when you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; yea, when you make many prayers, I will not hear; your hands are full of blood." So David was praying God's own Word.

What about David's prayer that the enemies life be shortened and his family suffer? Isn't that a little harsh? Not according to God's Word, Exodus 20:5-6 "You shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them. For I Jehovah your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the sons to the third and fourth generation of those that hate me, and showing mercy to thousands of those that love Me and keep My commandments". David’s petition may seem harsh to us, but it is no more severe than what God taught and what He personally practiced in dealing with the wicked. And remember, these are consequences that occur due to their own sinful actions. God knows who the truly wicked are and He won't allow any curses to fall upon those who are NOT truly wicked.

Let's say that I'm a Christian who has sinned by repeating a damaging bit of gossip. As soon as I said it I realized I was wrong and I went to the Lord privately and asked forgiveness. But the person I gossiped about is really hurt and they pray an imprecation against me. God knows that I was repentant and that I'm His child and no curse will come nigh me even though I did a wrong thing. God can heal that person and He forgives me.

On the other hand, what if someone is an atheist and God knows they will never come to salvation. This person begins a campaign of bitterness and false accusations against you. That person can expect nothing but God's wrath. It's not up to us to decide if a person is unrepentant or will never accept Christ. We have no way of knowing. Only God does. So we can trust that God knows the difference between a truly wicked person and a person who has just had a bad day or made a stupid mistake.

While the prayers of David are severe, his personal actions toward his enemies was gracious and kind. If you read the stories about David's life, you will find that he was merciful and submissive to King Saul. He never took revenge on King Saul. He was merciful and forgiving to Absalom. The one time he was cruel was to Uriah and when he was confronted with that sin, he was totally and sincerely repentant.

It all boils down to this... pray, express yourself to God, praise Him and trust that He will take care of the situation. He knows how, He knows who, He knows all, He has the power and He is willing. Through prayer, Davd was relieved of his hostility. He committed the destiny of the wicked to God. Punishment and vengeance belong to the Lord. By giving up vengeance we free ourselves to love and to forgive.

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