Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy; let an accuser stand at his right hand. When he is tried, let him be found guilty, and may his prayers condemn him. May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership. May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes. May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor. May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children. May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation. May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord ; may the sin of his mother never be blotted out. May their sins always remain before the Lord , that he may blot out their name from the earth. For he never thought of doing a kindness, but hounded to death the poor and the needy and the brokenhearted. He loved to pronounce a curse— may it come back on him. He found no pleasure in blessing— may it be far from him. He wore cursing as his garment; it entered into his body like water, into his bones like oil. May it be like a cloak wrapped about him, like a belt tied forever around him. May this be the Lord ’s payment to my accusers, to those who speak evil of me. But you, Sovereign Lord , help me for your name’s sake; out of the goodness of your love, deliver me. For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me. I fade away like an evening shadow; I am shaken off like a locust. My knees give way from fasting; my body is thin and gaunt. I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they shake their heads. – Psalm 109:6-25
This is a strange and confusing passage to be sure…funny water. I have prayed over it several times and the true meaning of what is going on in the passage remains a bit murky.
Both the enemy of the author (this is listed as a psalm of David) and the evil person in this passage are described as pretty destitute of redeeming qualities. The evil accuser who stands at the right hand of the author’s enemy sounds a bit like the deceiver incarnate, or one of his minions.
I am not sure if the author here is King David or not but it certainly sounds like it could be him in the midst of the many battles with enemies recounted back in 2 Samuel 22:1-7 when David feels torn by rip currents and raging torrents. David was drawn from these deep waters just as God is prepared to rescue us if we are willing and ready to be rescued.
Interestingly, the author then proceeds to invoke many statements of ill will toward the ” enemy”. I am not sure what the exact definition of a “curse” is but these statements sound a lot like cursing to me. The first definition provided on freedictionary.com is “An appeal or prayer for evil or misfortune to befall someone or something.” That would seem to fit the long list of “may…” statements like “May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.”
It seems like the accusing finger of the author is pointing squarely at himself in many ways. “He loved to pronounce a curse— may it come back on him. He found no pleasure in blessing— may it be far from him.” This seems a bit like the pot calling the kettle black. Maybe David is in fact accusing himself of doing the very things he is claiming that his enemies should be cursed for doing. It is really not clear…murky to be sure.
Water comes into this passage with the statement “He wore cursing as his garment; it entered into his body like water, into his bones like oil.” This would seem to describe the author as well as the “enemy” that he is cursing. It seems that cursing is a bit like a slow acting poison that becomes infused into our souls like water. If we are not careful to harness the cursing it threatens to define who we are…”into our bones like oil.”
It is almost as if this is a thinly disguised self-rebuke by David for all the ways he missed the mark as a flawed follower of God. The take home message seems to be that we all “fade away like an evening shadows” so don’t waste your time here on earth giving cursings rather than blessings.
Prayer: God help us to focus our time and energy on blessing rather than cursing.