A Man With Trouble
An EasyEnglish Translation with Notes (about 1200 word vocabulary) on Psalm 109
Words in boxes are from the Bible. Words in brackets, ( ), are not in the *Hebrew Bible.
The notes explain some of the words with a *star by them. A word list at the end explains the other words that have a *star by them.
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Jesus said, "You will be happy when people are not kind to you and do bad things to you. You will be happy because you love me, even when they say many bad things about you that are not true" (Matthew 5:11).
This 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 Davidís psalms. Whoever wrote it, the *psalmist had trouble. People were saying bad things about him, and attcking 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!
The *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".
The 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.
In verse 6, the *psalmist prays that an *evil (very bad) man is the *judge. Someone must stand at the right hand side of the *psalmistís 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).
The *psalmist prays that nobody will remember his enemyís 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 "fatherís grandfathers" and so on. "*Sins" are when we do not obey Godís rules.
In 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.
We 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.
But the word "*accuse" is interesting. In Hebrew it is "*satan". That is why we call the *Devil "*Satan". He accuses us to God. He tells God about the bad things that we do. Then he hopes that God will *punish us. There is a picture of this in Zechariah 3. But the last part of the psalm, (verses 21-31), tells us something else. There is someone else who will stand by our right hand. It is the *LORD, (verses 30-31). In the *New Testament, we call the *LORD by the name "Jesus". We should pray the words of verse 21. Then Jesus will save us when *Satan accuses us! "Because of your name" means "because of what people believe that you can do".
Verses 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).
But the *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).
1. Study the notes on Psalms of Imprecation in Psalm 69 of this set of psalms.
2. Read Zechariah 3. Zechariah was a *prophet that lived in 500 BC (500 years before Jesus came to the earth). Maybe the *psalmist finished Psalm 109 while Zechariah prophesied. A *prophet tells people what God is saying. We say that he Ďprophesiesí while he does this. Zechariah 3 is at the end of these notes.
3. Peter repeats words from Psalm 109 in Acts 1:20. Which verse of Psalm 109 does Peter repeat?
4. Learn to say verse 21 of Psalm 109 by *heart. This means that you can say them without looking at the words. Pray them to God. Really mean what you say!
Verse 1: "He" is maybe an *angel. An *angel is a special servant of God that lives with God in *heaven.
Verse 3: "*Filthy" means "very, very dirty".
Verse 5: "I" is Zechariah.
Verse 7: "*Heaven" is the home of God. We do not know where it is. "My house" is the *temple of God in Jerusalem. A *temple is a large building. The courts are not courts of law, as in psalm 109. They are places round the *temple in Jerusalem where people could go. Only Godís special servants called "*priests" could go into the *temple itself. Joshua was the most important *priest.
Verses 8 and 9: The BRANCH and the stone are names for Godís *Messiah. We call him Jesus.
Verse 10: Grapes and figs are fruits. They grow on trees.
accuse ~ suggest that someone has done something wrong.
angel ~ *spirit that lives in *heaven with God.
anointed ~ with (*olive) oil poured on.
Branch ~ a name for Godís *Messiah. We call him Jesus.
courts ~ places outside the *temple.
covenant ~ two people have agreed what each should do (here, God and his people). Look in Psalm 120 about the covenant.
Devil ~ another name for Satan who is the worst evil spirit and the enemy of God.
evil ~ very, very bad.
fathers ~ in the Old Testament it often means grandfathers and great-grandfathers and so on.
fig ~ a fruits that grows on trees.
filthy ~ very, very dirty.
grape ~ a fruit that grows on trees.
guilty ~ done something wrong.
hate ~ the opposite of love.
heart ~ part of the body. *Jews believed that you thought in your heart.
heaven ~ the home of God.
Hebrew ~ the language that the Jews spoke; they wrote the Psalms in Hebrew.
Jew ~ a person who is born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their children.
judge ~ a judge says who is right and who is wrong; or, to say who is right and who is wrong.
liar ~ a liar says things that are not true.
LORD ~ the *covenant name for God (in a *covenant you agree with someone).
Messiah ~ in the Old Testament, the *anointed king. In the New Testament, Jesus. The word messiah is *Hebrew for *anointed.
New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible, which the writers wrote after the life of Jesus. It is about the things that Jesus did and taught. It is also about what Christians believe and do.
olive ~ a fruit.
praise ~ to say how great someone is; or, words that say how great someone is.
priest ~ a servant of God in his *temple.
prophesy ~ tell people what God thinks and will do.
prophet ~ someone who *prophesies.
psalmist ~ the person that wrote a psalm (or psalms).
punish ~ hurt someone because they have not obeyed the rules.
Satan ~ the leader of the bad *spirits. He is also called the Devil and Lucifer.
shake ~ move from one side to another and back again very fast many times.
shame ~ a bad feeling when we have done wrong.
sin ~ not obeying God; or what you do when you do not obey God.
spirit ~ this part of us lives when our body dies.
temple ~ a place where people meet to worship God.
trial ~ a trial happens after the police catch someone. They ask a *judge to decide if that person did something wrong.
widow ~ woman whose husband is dead.
© 1999-2002, Wycliffe Associates (UK)
This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level A (1200 words).
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