Read Psalm 109 here.
Sometimes we feel like we are in a dark and barren land. Sometimes we feel like our enemies are out to get us, that our kindness is repaid with evil and hatred returned for friendship. Such are the feelings of this psalm writer who writes not only of his/her own hurts, but desires revenge.
Christians don’t really know what to do with this psalm. It brings out the secret (or not so secret) desire of the writer who wants curses to fall upon his enemies and their ancestors. What do we do with this, especially in light of Jesus who says turn the other cheek and love your enemies?
The reality is that, while Jesus calls us to love our enemies, the thought of avenging our enemies often comes across our sin-filled hearts. Theologian Walter Brueggemann puts it this way: “The real problem is not that vengeance is there in the Psalms, but that it is here in our midst. And that it is there and here only reflects how attuned the Psalter is to what goes on among us.”
Perhaps acknowledging thoughts of revenge is the first step towards turning those thoughts of hurt and rage and demanding justice in the name of self-righteousness into something else. Perhaps expressing these thoughts to God, our Creator and Sustainer of life in prayer is the first step into releasing those hurts and feelings of anger to God.
Ultimately the writer submits to God in saying, “Save me God!” Maybe the writer needs to be saved not from his/her enemies, but from his/her own sin of self-righteousness and this cry to God is the first step. This is not to minimize the real hurt and pain, but it is to help move us into a sacred space of healing, after acknowledging our hurt and pain. Notice that the psalmist ends in praising God in spite of his/her circumstances.
For us, it has been suggested by J. Clinton McCann, Jr. that Psalm 109, “Can be a prayer for us too, to stand in solidarity with all who have been suffering with the abused, the victimized and the oppressed, because that is where God stands too! “(Verse 31).