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Nov 23 / Jonathan

Psalm 109

D59ACC36-D5C3-4864-B028-A8556449D512.jpgObama’s more bitter opponents have come up with yet another “clever” way of calling for his assassination. You’ve probably heard this part already, but bear with me. What’s this Psalm 109:8 business?

May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership.

The clever part (wink, wink) are the next verses:

May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow. May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes.

Lovely stuff, isn’t it? It’s gotten plenty of criticism, and rightly so, but there’s a bit of irony here as well, in that the clever boots that came up with this bit of nastiness apparently didn’t bother to read the whole chapter. The psalms are conventionally attributed to David, the great-great-something or other of Jesus, among others. While there’s little or no historical evidence that David ever lived, or that if he did that he wrote any of the psalms, it’s a safe bet that anyone wearing that shirt over there believes it literally.

Here’s the thing. This particular psalm is not only attributed to David, it’s attributed to King David—that is, David after he became the second king (after Saul) of Israel. So let’s go back to the beginning of Psalm 109, King David speaking:

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

O God, whom I praise, do not remain silent, for wicked and deceitful men have opened their mouths against me; they have spoken against me with lying tongues.

With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause. In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer. They repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship.

These are the wicked and deceitful men who would kill the King (or perhaps just wear T-shirts slyly proposing the deed). Later in the psalm, David concludes:

Help me, O Lord my God; save me in accordance with your love. Let them know that it is your hand, that you, O Lord, have done it. They may curse, but you will bless; when they attack they will be put to shame, but your servant will rejoice. My accusers will be clothed with disgrace and wrapped in shame as in a cloak.

With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord; in the great throng I will praise him. For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save his life from those who condemn him.

I needn’t belabor the irony here; condemned out of their own mouths…

(Thanks to Father Marc for pointing this out.)

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