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New American Bible

2002 11 11
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Chapter 109


1 For the leader. A psalm of David.


O God, whom I praise, do not be silent, for wicked and treacherous mouths attack me. They speak against me with lying tongues;


with hateful words they surround me, attacking me without cause.


In return for my love they slander me, even though I prayed for them.


They repay me evil for good, hatred for my love. My enemies say of me:


2 "Find a lying witness, an accuser to stand by his right hand,


That he may be judged and found guilty, that his plea may be in vain.


May his days be few; may another take his office.


May his children be fatherless, his wife, a widow.


May his children be vagrant beggars, driven from their hovels.


May the usurer snare all he owns, strangers plunder all he earns.


May no one treat him kindly or pity his fatherless children.


May his posterity be destroyed, his name cease in the next generation.


May the LORD remember his fathers' guilt; his mother's sin not be canceled.


May their guilt be always before the LORD, till their memory is banished from the earth,


For he did not remember to show kindness, but hounded the wretched poor and brought death to the brokenhearted.


He loved cursing; may it come upon him; he hated blessing; may none come to him.


May cursing clothe him like a robe; may it enter his belly like water, seep into his bones like oil.


May it be near as the clothes he wears, as the belt always around him."


3 May the LORD bring all this upon my accusers, upon those who speak evil against me.


But you, LORD, my God, deal kindly with me for your name's sake; in your great mercy rescue me.


For I am sorely in need; my heart is pierced within me.


Like a lengthening shadow I near my end, all but swept away like the locust.


My knees totter from fasting; my flesh has wasted away.


I have become a mockery to them; when they see me, they shake their heads.


Help me, LORD, my God; save me in your kindness.


Make them know this is your hand, that you, LORD, have acted.


Though they curse, may you bless; shame my foes, that your servant may rejoice.


Clothe my accusers with disgrace; make them wear shame like a mantle.


I will give fervent thanks to the LORD; before all I will praise my God.


For God stands at the right hand of the poor to defend them against unjust accusers.



1 [Psalm 109] A lament notable for the length and vehemence of its prayer against evildoers ( Psalm 109:6-20); the cry to God ( Psalm 109:1) and the complaint ( Psalm 109:22-25) are brief in comparison. The psalmist is apparently the victim of a slander campaign, potentially devastating in a society where reputation and honor are paramount. In the emotional perspective of the psalm, there are only two types of people: the wicked and their poor victims. The psalmist is a poor victim (Psalm 108:22, 31) and by that fact a friend of God and enemy of the wicked. The psalmist seeks vindication not on the basis of personal virtue but because of God's promise to protect the poor.

2 [6] An accuser: Hebrew satan, a word occurring in Job 1-2 and Zechariah 3:1-2. In the latter passage Satan stands at the right hand of the high priest to bring false accusations against him before God. Here the accuser is human.

3 [20] May the LORD bring all this: the psalmist prays that God ratify the curses of 6-19 and bring them upon the wicked.

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