(13) May his descendants be cut off. May his name be blotted out in the following generation. (14) May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before Yahweh, and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out. (15) May (their sins) be before Yahweh continuously that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth, (16) for he did not remember to show kindness (hesed), but pursued the poor and needy and the broken hearted to put them to death. (17) As he loved to curse, so let it (cursing) come to him. As he did not delight in blessing, so let it (blessing) be distant from him. (18) He put on cursing like a coat. May it enter into his body like water and into his bones like oil. (19) May it be like a garment he wraps around himself and like a belt which he wears continually. (20) May this (be) the recompense of my adversaries from Yahweh and of those who speak evil against my soul.
Several repetitions mark this paragraph which carries on with the same negativity found in the previous segment. The verb “blotted out” occurs twice, first with regard to the name of the psalmist’s enemy and then in a request that the sins of his enemy’s parents not be “blotted out” or forgiven (vss. 13 & 14). The verb “cut off” is used initially to ask that the lives of his enemy’s descendants be terminated and then to request that the memory of his enemy’s family be expunged from the earth (vss. 13 & 15).
The word for “memory/remember” is found twice, both as a noun (vs. 15) and as a verb (vs. 16). The psalmist petitions God to erase the memory of his enemy’s family since he did not remember to show kindness. Finally, the word for “curse/cursing” shows up twice, first as a verb (vs. 17) and then as a noun (vs. 18). The psalmist’s desire is that his enemy who loved to curse and put on cursing like a coat might himself experience God’s cursing.
Prayers shaped by the behavior of my enemy:
- Because my enemy has shown no kindness, may he and his family be forgotten. (13-16)
- Because my enemy took delight in cursing others, may he be accursed. (17-20)
May Yahweh treat our enemies the same way they have treated us.
It is widely assumed that venting our feelings is healthy behavior. Instead of bottling up our anger and frustration, we are encouraged by many to express our emotions freely with the idea that in doing so we allow the anger to escape from our system like excess steam from a boiler. However, research directed by Jeffrey M. Lohr at the University of Arkansas has shown that such thinking is mistaken. In a journal article he concluded: “If venting really does get anger out of your system, then venting should result in a reduction of both anger and aggression. Unfortunately for the catharsis theory, our results showed precisely the opposite effect. In study after study, subjects who vented anger...showed more resentment afterward than those who had not vented.”
David in Psalm 109 offers a much healthier and safer approach, namely coming to God with our anger and leaving it there. For fifteen verses, David expresses in prayer his frustrations with his enemies, his rage, his hurts, his desires for revenge. He places all this in the hands of the only one who can do something about it. As Paul tells us in Romans, we are to “leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay’, says the Lord” (Rom. 12:19). Turning over to the Lord our desires for revenge is a much healthier way to deal with such negativity rather than dwelling on our frustrations or, even worse, trying to get even in our own strength