109:0This is one of the Psalms of ‘Imprecation.’ You say an imprecation when you ask God for something bad to happen to your enemies. Other Psalms of Imprecation include Psalms 35 and 69. Read the notes in Psalm 69 for help to understand them.
Perhaps David wrote Psalm 109. Perhaps someone else was the psalmist (the person that wrote the psalm). Then the psalmist put it with David's psalms. Whoever wrote it, the psalmist had trouble. People were saying bad things about him, and attacking him. They did this by saying bad things about him. The psalmist loved them and prayed for them, (verses 1-5). But they still said these bad things. Then, in verses 6-20, the psalmist prays for bad things to happen to the leader of these people. Perhaps he meant all of his enemies, not just their leader. In verses 21-31, the psalmist prays to God for help.
If David wrote Psalm 109, maybe other people changed it later. They did this when new enemies and problems came. Perhaps the last changes happened to the psalm 500 years after David died!
A Man with Trouble
This is a song that David wrote for the music leader.
1 You are the God that I praise.
Let me hear you speak!
109:1The psalmist is speaking to ‘the God that I praise’, (verse 1). ‘Praise God’ means ‘tell God that he is great.’ But the psalmist wants God to answer him. He means that he wants God to do something about his, the psalmist's, troubles. These include:
– Liars (people who say things that are not true). See verse 2.
– People that hate him; ‘hate’ means the opposite of ‘love.’ See verse 3.
– People that attack him without a reason, (verse 3).
– People that accuse him; ‘accuse’ means ‘say that he did something wrong.’
2 Do something because bad men and liars say bad things about me.
They say things about me that are not true.
3 Their words of hate are all round me.
Also, they attack me without a reason.
4 I love them and pray for them.
But they accuse me.
109:4The word ‘accuse’ is important. It comes 4 times in Psalm 109, in verses 4, 6, 20 and 29. Verse 6 starts the second part of the psalm. It ends at verse 20. In his mind, the psalmist sees a picture. He sees a Court of Law. This is a place where a trial happens. A trial happens after the police catch someone. They ask a judge to decide if that person did something wrong. If they did wrong, then they are guilty. They have not obeyed the rules of their country, or they have ‘broken the law.’ Then the judge punishes them. They may pay a fine (money). Or they go to prison, or someone with authority executes (kills) them.
5 I do good things for them, but they pay me back with bad things.
I love them, but they hate me.
6 Put an evil man against my enemy.
Also, make somebody stand by his right hand side to accuse him.
109:6In verse 6, the psalmist prays that an evil (very bad) man is the judge. Someone must stand at the right hand side of the psalmist's enemy to accuse him. What he (the man that accuses) says will show that he (the psalmist's enemy) has done wrong, (verse 7). Then the judge will punish him, (verses 8-19). The judge decides that someone must kill him. So his life is short, (verse 8). This means that his children have no father and his wife is a widow, (has no husband), (verse 9).
7 Make him be guilty at his trial.
And make his words show that he has done wrong things.
8 Make his life a short one
and let somebody else be leader instead of him.
9 Make his children have no father
and make his wife a widow.
10 Make his children go from place to place, asking for money.
Destroy their home and send them away from it.
11 Make the lender of money take everything that he had.
And let strangers get everything that he worked for.
12 Do not let anybody be kind to him.
Do not let anybody be kind to the children that he has left without a father.
13 I pray that you will destroy everyone in his family after him.
I want people that live later never to know the names of his family!
109:13The psalmist prays that nobody will remember his enemy's family. This includes the people that came after him, (verse 13). And it includes everybody that lived before him, (verse 14). ‘Fathers’ in this verse means ‘grandfathers’ and ‘father's grandfathers’ and so on. ‘Sins’ are when we do not obey God's rules.
14 I want the Lord to remember the bad things that his fathers did.
I do not want the Lord to clean away his mother's sins.
15 I want the Lord always to remember these bad things
and people on earth never to remember his family.
109:15In verse 14, and 5 other verses in the psalm, there is the word Lord. This translates the Hebrew word ‘Yahweh.’ Hebrew is the language that the psalmist spoke. Yahweh is a special name for God. God has agreed to give his people kind love if they love and obey him. That is what Yahweh means. When people agree like this, we call it a ‘covenant.’ So, Lord is the covenant name for God.
16 Do this, Lord because he my enemy did not remember to be kind to people.
Instead, he was not kind to them.
He killed people that were poor.
He killed people that needed many things.
He killed people that had nobody to give them help.
17 He loved to say bad things about people;
so I want bad things to happen to him!
He did not like to say good things about people;
so I want nobody to say good things about him!
18 He said bad things about people as often as he put on clothes.
I want these bad things to go into his body as the water that he drinks.
I want them to go into his bones like oil.
109:18We may think that what the psalmist wanted for his enemy was bad. Maybe we are right. But verses 16-18 tell us that this enemy was a really bad, or evil, man. One day, God will punish (or hurt) people that are really bad. Read 2 Thessalonians 2 to find out what Paul says about this! The important thing to remember is this: God will punish bad people; we do not punish them. The psalmist prays that the bad things that his enemy does will also happen to him. The oil in verse 18 is not motor oil, but the oil from a fruit called the olive. People use it today to cook with.
19 Then the bad things that he says will cover him like his clothes.
They will cover him like the belt that he wears every day.
20 This is how I want the Lord to pay the people that accuse me.
They are the people that say bad things about me.
21 But you are GOD my Lord.
Give me help, because of your name!
Save me, because you are good and you love me.
22 Save me because I am poor and need many things.
My heart inside me is hurting.
23 I am dying, as a shadow at evening.
I am like an insect that the wind blows away.
24 My knees are weak because I am not eating food.
My body is thin and not fat as it was.
25 The people that see me just laugh at me!
They shake their heads at me.
109:25Verses 22-25 tell us that the psalmist is ill. He is hurting inside, (verse 22). He thinks that he is dying. He thinks that he is like a shadow that goes when the sun goes down. He is like an insect called a locust. People just blow them away as the wind does. He does not eat. So he is weak and he becomes thin, (verse 24). Maybe this means he is ‘fasting’ (not eating to make God answer him when he prays). People just laugh and shake their heads (or ‘move their heads from side to side’), (verse 25).
26 Lord my God, send me help!
Because of your kind love, save me!
109:26The psalmist prays for help, (verse 26). He wants everybody to know that God has done something, (verse 27). God will do good things for the psalmist, verse 28 and make his enemies feel ashamed. Their ‘shame’ in verse 29 is when they ‘feel ashamed.’ They cannot get away from this feeling. It is all round them like their clothes are all round them! But the psalmist (‘your servant’) feels very happy, verse 28. He will say that the Lord is very great. He will praise him, (verse 30).
27 Make everybody know, Lord, that you have done something!
28 When they say bad things about me, you will say good things about me.
When they attack me, they will be ashamed.
Then your servant will be very happy!
29 The people that accuse me will have shame all round them.
It will be all round them as their clothes are all round them.
It will be all round them like a coat.
30 My mouth will say that the Lord is very great!
I will praise him in front of a big crowd of people.
31 He stands at the right hand side of the people that need help.
He saves the life of the man that people are attacking.
That is why I will praise him.