Today: [Psalm 108-109] Is it EVER Permissible to CURSE Your Enemy? In the passages study today we find exhortations regarding how to conduct yourself in conflict. Psalm 108 is called the “Warrior’s Psalm”. Psalm 109 contains some of the most brutal language in the scriptures – curses against one’s enemies. What is the believer’s response to these verses. Are you EVER justified as a person or a nation to curse or vilify others? What did Jesus teach?
[Psa 108:1-13 KJV] 1 [[A Song [or] Psalm of David.]] O God, my heart is fixed; I will sing and give praise, even with my glory. 2 Awake, psaltery and harp: I [myself] will awake early. 3 I will praise thee, O LORD, among the people: and I will sing praises unto thee among the nations. 4 For thy mercy [is] great above the heavens: and thy truth [reacheth] unto the clouds. 5 Be thou exalted, O God, above the heavens: and thy glory above all the earth; 6 That thy beloved may be delivered: save [with] thy right hand, and answer me. 7 God hath spoken in his holiness; I will rejoice, I will divide Shechem, and mete out the valley of Succoth. 8 Gilead [is] mine; Manasseh [is] mine; Ephraim also [is] the strength of mine head; Judah [is] my lawgiver; 9 Moab [is] my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe; over Philistia will I triumph. 10 Who will bring me into the strong city? who will lead me into Edom? 11 [Wilt] not [thou], O God, [who] hast cast us off? and wilt not thou, O God, go forth with our hosts? 12 Give us help from trouble: for vain [is] the help of man. 13 Through God we shall do valiantly: for he [it is that] shall tread down our enemies.
This psalm repeats passages out of Psalm 57 and 60 almost word for word. One writer suggested that this psalm is intended to be a fusion of these two other psalms to bring the passages up to date with events contemporary to the time that it was authored. Charles Spurgeon (referred to by some as the “prince of preachers”) calls this psalm a warriors psalm or a psalm of spiritual warfare. Its intent is to prepare the reader for the conflicts of the day with strong encouragement and consolation in the love and protection of Almighty God.
Verse one begins with an exhortation to have your heart fixed in God. The word fixed hear means “steadfast”. When you face your day there are many people, circumstances and situations that may distract you from your faith, and your joy in God. Greet the day with the determination that even though you may face challenges you are going to maintain your love for God and trust in His providence. Isaiah 26:3-4 give us the benefit of keeping your heart fixed in God:
Isaiah 26:3-4 – Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.  Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength:
In verse 2 the writer speaks to his musical instruments, telling them to “wake up”. Have you ever been under pressure to such a degree that praising God in song did not come easy? Not because you don’t love God or appreciate Him for all He is – but when you are struggling or distracted it can be difficult to rouse yourself to the simplicity of song. Don’t hang your harp on the willows. Music and praise is a form of warfare. War against the challenges of the day in song.
In expressing praise the writer emphasizes the mercy of God. The mercy of God verse 4 tells us reaches to the clouds. This means us. Throughout the scripture people are compared to clouds, as well as trees, etc. God’s mercy finds us where we are. Praise God that His mercy doesn’t fails to reach us in the situation we are facing. We often get frustrated and complain that our circumstances are not fair. That thought assumes that God owes us something or that we are righteous in ourselves. When you come to God with honesty you never assert that you have paid your dues in the kingdom. Your constant appreciation is for the unconditional love and extended mercy of God which no man rightly deserves yet is the recipient of.
The following passages make mention of the tribes and nations around Israel’s borders. The emphasis is that God is in control. In verse 12 the writer calls on God for help because looking to man for assistance is futile. Israel many times in their history stood up to defend their neighbors against invasion – but very few times did their neighbor’s reciprocate when Israel was threatened. Always walk in love toward those around you but keep your expectations on God when you are threatened. He will be your help with none other comes to your aid.
[Psa 109:1-31 KJV] 1 [[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.]] Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise; 2 For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue. 3 They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause. 4 For my love they are my adversaries: but I [give myself unto] prayer. 5 And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love. 6 Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand. 7 When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin. 8 Let his days be few; [and] let another take his office. 9 Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. 10 Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek [their bread] also out of their desolate places. 11 Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labour. 12 Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favour his fatherless children. 13 Let his posterity be cut off; [and] in the generation following let their name be blotted out. 14 Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the LORD; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out.
Psalm 109 is a messianic psalm that gives us the heart’s cry of Jesus in the aftermath of Judas’ betrayal. Many times leaders when they are betrayed invoke the language of this psalm which is defined as an “imprecatory” psalm. Verse 8 speaks of the office once appointed to Judas among the 12 apostles as being “taken by another”. Politicians have bandied this verse about as a complaint when one of their party did not sit in the oval office. It is considered the prayer of the minority party desiring to take command of the nation once again. In 2010 a Florida deputy was suspended for circling this verse in a bible and calling it “The Obama Prayer”. Whatever the case may be we do not want to hold the word in unrighteousness. In Dan. 2:21 we are reminded that God sets us kings – he deposes one and elevates another to office. This applies not only to the ones you may agree with but to the ones you do not as well.
15 Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth. 16 Because that he remembered not to shew mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, that he might even slay the broken in heart. 17 As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him: as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him. 18 As he clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment, so let it come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones. 19 Let it be unto him as the garment [which] covereth him, and for a girdle wherewith he is girded continually. 20 [Let] this [be] the reward of mine adversaries from the LORD, and of them that speak evil against my soul. 21 But do thou for me, O GOD the Lord, for thy name’s sake: because thy mercy [is] good, deliver thou me. 22 For I [am] poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me. 23 I am gone like the shadow when it declineth: I am tossed up and down as the locust. 24 My knees are weak through fasting; and my flesh faileth of fatness. 25 I became also a reproach unto them: [when] they looked upon me they shaked their heads. 26 Help me, O LORD my God: O save me according to thy mercy: 27 That they may know that this [is] thy hand; [that] thou, LORD, hast done it. 28 Let them curse, but bless thou: when they arise, let them be ashamed; but let thy servant rejoice. 29 Let mine adversaries be clothed with shame, and let them cover themselves with their own confusion, as with a mantle. 30 I will greatly praise the LORD with my mouth; yea, I will praise him among the multitude. 31 For he shall stand at the right hand of the poor, to save [him] from those that condemn his soul.
This chapter contains some of the strongest language in the bible dealing with offense and deprecation. In verse 15 the writer calls on God to cut off his enemy from the earth. Is it ever correct to speak a curse? The curses in this chapter are vehement and extreme. Is this in line with what Jesus taught? When we read the Old Testament we have to filter our understanding of its passages through the teachings and doctrine Jesus gave us. In Luke Jesus said:
[Luk 6:28 KJV] 28 Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.
Many times we read these passages and think that they don’t apply to our situation. We are suffering and we want some relief so we exclude ourselves from the teachings of Jesus regarding having such an attitude toward our enemy. Difficult circumstances do not justify suspending our obedience to the gospels. Remember that Jesus taught a people who were under the brutal oppression of Rome.
[Mat 5:43-45 KJV] 43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
Here we see an adjustment Jesus is calling upon us to make when we read passages like Psalm 109. Jesus is acknowledging that yes the Old Testament allowed you to hate and to curse your enemy. However Jesus in this statement in Matthew reconfigures the message and the mandage to do just the opposite. This is MOST inconvenient when dealing the matters such as warfare, bombing our adversaries etc. Do you think in the 1000 year reign of Christ that Jesus will sit on the throne in Jerusalem and order drone strikes? This may not be the whole of the matter but neither can we pretend that these teachings don’t exist just because they don’t fit the political narrative of our national interest or our personal interest.
1 Cor. 13:8 tells us that love never fails. No matter what the pretext for stepping out of love we have to agree with the scripture that a step out of love is a step into failure. Does this mean we lay down and let people or nations plough us under and destroy our lives? No it does not. Yet the mandate for us is this – God is love and we are called to walk in love. If we walk in love we will glorify our Father in heaven.
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