Psalm 109 Commentary
It’s not every day that you find a psalm so lacking in generosity as this one. Instead of blessing, he has cursed. He has wished misfortune on the ungodly. How does this psalm stand in the congregation of the New Testament thoughts that specifically call the saints to forgive and pray for their enemies?
Yet there is no contradiction. Or maybe there is. The contradiction exists in the very nature of the Creator God. The God we saw at Mount Sanai hasn’t changed at all.
“And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”
This psalm has picked on the last part of God’s nature and expands it with graphics. It is the justice part of the LORD. How justice and love combine at the same time is a mystery mortals cannot understand.
The LORD didn’t have mercy on the sinner. His wrath was poured out completely and unchecked. The sinner got what he deserved. He died a shameful death by hanging. In the cry: “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani,” the ultimate sinner saw complete isolation from the Creator God. The created had bottomed. It couldn’t get worse.
But, is it not the same Calvary that gave mortals a lease of freshness and hope for immortality? There and then, mortals could find salvation through the love that flowed freely from the perfect sacrifice. Yes, at Calvary, justice and love combined in perfection.
So this psalm must be read through the lens of the Cross. Let not the reader forget what awaits the ungodly if they elect to reject the offer of love as expressed at Calvary.
Without the Calvary, mortals stand condemned. Their days are cut short. Their iniquities are remembered before the LORD. The psalmist has used graphics to communicate the total exclusion from the blessedness of a restored life under the care of the Shepherd-King.
The picture changes very quickly from the unrepentant oppressor to the repentant oppressed.
He is poor and needy. What a combination! It is terrible but perfect. The poor may include individuals with less than enough to live with. The needy include everyone under the term humanity. A rich man gasping for oxygen at some executive clinic somewhere is needy. He doesn’t have what a poor man has in abundance under open skies.
This section of the psalm invites us to reflect on life and the meaning of these terms. Our dependency on God is total. We cannot miss this point. The world can pretend to have it all covered but needy we are and salvation only comes when we humbly submit to the lordship of the LORD Jesus Christ.
In the meantime, a saint is an object of scorn. He prays; he fasts. He is appealing to the compassions and mercies of the LORD. The saint can pray.
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