Deliver My Soul
(26) Help me, Yahweh, my God. Deliver me in accordance with your steadfast love. (27) Let them know that this (is) your hand, that you, Yahweh, have done it. (28) Let them curse, but you will bless. When they arise (against me), they will be ashamed, but your servant will rejoice. (29) My adversaries will be clothed with reproach and wrapped in shame as with a cloak. (30) I will give abundant thanks to Yahweh with my mouth, and in the midst of the multitude I will praise him, (31) for he takes his stand at the right hand of the needy to deliver his soul from those who condemn him.
In this final summarizing segment of Psalm 109, one repetition sets the tone: “deliver” or “save” is found twice (vss. 26 & 31). In the first instance, it is a verb in the imperative mood, a cry to God for help. In the second, it is the same verb as an infinitive, telling us why those who have been helped by God should offer him praise.
Several words remind us of terminology used earlier in the psalm: “deliver” and “steadfast love” (cf. vs. 26 with vs. 21), “cursing and blessing” (cf. vs. 28 with vss. 17 & 18). Two metaphors, “clothed with reproach” and “wrapped in shame as a cloak” (vs. 29), recall for us language used previously (vss. 18 & 19). Finally, “needy” (vs. 31) echoes the “needy” used earlier (vs. 22).
I. Prayer for deliverance from my adversaries (26-29)
II. Praise for deliverance from my adversaries (30 & 31)
Because God has graciously answered my prayer for deliverance, I will gladly offer him my gratitude and praise.
Consider the following petition: “Lord, when you answer, make it obvious to everyone, especially to my enemies, that this is something you alone have done. Let my deliverance serve as a testimony to your supernatural power and undying love so that others might learn through my example to praise you.” Such a request makes clear that the one praying has advanced from thinking only of personal protection to the greater and more important issue of making sure that God receives the glory that is due him.
Earlier in the psalm, David had been venting his anger and frustration to God, asking him to treat his enemies in the same way that they had treated him (vss. 6-20). That is how most of us would typically respond to betrayal or abuse. After suffering such damage we naturally yearn for those responsible to experience the same misery they have inflicted on us. In the words of Exodus 21:24, we want “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.”
How much better that David asks that those who have been responsible for inflicting on him the suffering he endured might come to know the God who sustained and delivered him (vs. 27)! That is precisely why Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Lk. 23:34). When we turn from mulling over our own distress and focus on the greater issues of God’s glory and the needs of others, especially the desperate need of our adversaries, we reflect in our attitude the high standard Jesus set for his disciples: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:44 & 45).