There is an advertisement presently running regarding a particular car brand that has the words, “The more we feel. The more alive we are”. Whether we agree or not is not my point, but these words seem to be, somehow, very relevant as we read Psalm 109.
Now, you may not necessarily appreciate the words of David in this psalm, but endeavour, with an open mind, to consider the emotions/feelings on display as he cries out to God for vindication against those who oppose him. See also quotes from verses 1-18 describing these enemies and their evil ways in my last Post, remembering that, as Kidner says, “It is only fair to point out that the words wrung from [the sufferer] as [he] pleads [his] case are a measure of the deeds which provoked them.” (# 29):
6 Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.
7 When he is tried, let him be found guilty,
and may his prayers condemn him.
8 May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.
9 May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow.
10 May his children be wandering beggars;
may they be drivenfrom their ruined homes.
11 May a creditor seize all he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.
12 May no one extend kindness to him
or take pity on his fatherless children.
13 May his descendants be cut off,
their names blotted out from the next generation.
14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord;
may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.
15 May their sins always remain before the Lord,
that he may blot out their name from the earth.
Let me quote further from Kidner:
“The tone and spirit of these cries range from plaintive to the ferocious. Hatred is sometimes met by hatred, cruelty by cruelty… we should notice that invective [critical language] has its own rhetoric [persuasive expression], in which horror may be piled on horror more to express the speaker’s sense of outrage than to spell out the penalties he literally intends… it would be a mistake [though] to wish it away. It has as valid a function in this kind of context as hyperbole [exaggerated statements] has in the realm of description: a vividness of communication which is beyond the reach of cautious literalism.”
So, why are such psalms included in the Psalter and what function could such language have? Well, I will let Kidner explain:
“This brings us close to the heart of the matter, which is that the psalms have among other roles in Scripture one which is peculiarly their own: to touch and kindle us rather than simply to address us. The passages on which we may be tempted to sit in judgement have the shocking immediacy of a scream, to startle us into feeling something of the desperation that produced them. This is revelation in a mode more indirect but more intimate than most other forms. Without it we should have less embarrassment but still less conception of the ‘dark places of the earth’ which are ‘full of the habitations of cruelty’ [Psalm 74:20], a cruelty that can bring faithful men [and women] to breaking-point.” (# 29)
May God enable us to feel deeply for those around us who may be suffering from injustice (even to the breaking-point) as the psalmist was and to respond as He then enables us. So that, one day, they, like David will be able to pray:
30 With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord;
in the great throng of worshipers I will praise him.
31 For he stands at the right hand of the needy,
to save their lives from those who would condemn them.