Praying to a Ferocious Lover

Psalms 109

praying the psalms

Psalm 109 is a difficult psalm to pray if you have a weak view of God’s holiness and the ferocity of His love for His people. In comparison to David, our prayers are soft-headed when placed alongside David’s robust boldness in praying not only for God to bless him but to vanquish his enemy.

David is desperate even in the midst of his praise for the goodness of his God. “Be not silent, O God of my praise!” Encircled by wicked men who lie, and attack, and gloat, and use his kindness against him, David still knows his help comes from God. But he doesn’t just pray for help and rescue. He prays for the defeat of his enemies. In the midst of the evil plans of his foes who are seeking to take his life, verses 6-20 are a powerful plea for God to go to war against those arrayed against him. And he doesn’t mince words.

He prays that other wicked men will be raised up against the ones opposing him. That’s like praying that a Hitler will be raised up against a Stalin or a Stalin against a Hitler. (Is that different from the kind of prayer you pray?) He prays that their plans would be defeated …

that their prayers would be counted as sin (v 7)
that their days would be few (v 8)
that their position would be taken away 
that their children would be orphaned (v 9)
that all their assets would be lost (v 11) 
and that no one would extend kindness to them or even their children! (v 13)

How can He pray this way?
Is this the way you pray against your enemies?

Is it even godly to pray this way?

David knew the ferocity of God’s love better than we do. And that’s why we need to listen to him. We need his experience with God and to be infected by his vision of who God is.

Pulitzer Prize winning author Anne Dillard spoke of the ferociousness of God’s love in a famous line from Teaching a Stone to Talk when she commented on the fancy-hat-tradition at some churches around Easter time:

… It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews.”

Our God is not a God to be trifled with.

Not even a little. 

I’m not going to solve the theological dilemma raised by a text like this. Not the kind of thing I can aim at in 500 words or less. But I will say this.

This psalm tells me that God is for me.

He has redeemed me and fights for me. His covenant love follows me and will never leave me. He will never let me go. 

So with David . . .

With my mouth I will give great thanks to the LORD;
.      I will praise Him in the midst of the throng.                  vs. 30

If you belong to Christ, every word here is for your comfort.

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