Thursday, November 26, 2009

Please Think Deeply Before You Jump On The Psalm 109:8 Bandwagon

Perhaps you have already started noticing some stuff pop up, such as shirts and bumper stickers that urges prayer for Obama, with the Scripture reference to Psalm 109:8.

The text of this particular verse states, "May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership."

I think many people feel they are being witty, and I'll admit, I enjoy throwing out the occasional proof text for a chuckle. When people ask about the Bible and politics, I get a kick out of quoting Ecclesiastes 10:2.

But when you're going to invoke the Word of God for any purpose, it is only respectful to God to try and use it in the context in which it is intended. And it is for this reason that I would urge my friends to think very hard before jumping on this Psalm 109 campaign.

Psalm 109 is an imprecatory Psalm, which means it is written by an Israelite, begging God to bring vengeance towards an enemy of David and/or Israel. I think God has given us the Psalms to help us know healthy ways to process our full range of emotions, and it isn't any accident that so many of the Psalms are dealing with feelings of fear, sadness, or longing for the presence of God. But in Psalms like this, we see that when we've been betrayed, we give our problems to God, and trust him to do what is best.

But having said all that, let's get back to the issue at hand. I would suggest that if you don't care for President Obama, it is 100% fine to disagree with his policies, to question some of his associations, and to have frustrations over whatever he is doing with which you disagree. But to start invoking Psalm 109, it is important to be sure that you--as a Christian--want to wish these types of things on anyone; much less the President; especially if you are going to put it on your clothing or the bumper of your car, telling others to do the same. The fact that humor is implied makes this a particularly low blow.

The Psalm includes wishes for the person's wife to be widowed, and for his children to be impoverished, homeless beggars whose possessions have all been seized by creditors. Even if you hold Obama in very low esteem, it is still important to remember the way Christ treated us when we deserved to be held by God in very low esteem.

Let's not forget verses like Matthew 7:2:
For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

I will readily acknowledge that I have some very strong concerns about our current president. I didn't vote for him, and I'd love to have someone in office who shares my Christian worldview, and who believes in a form of Government more like the vision that I have. I never thought the day would come where I would miss Bill Clinton. I'm not an Obama fan. But I feel like this Psalm 109:8 campaign involves a misuse of Scripture, and shows an attitude that is not becoming of Christians. Christ could forgive the people who crucified him. Can you really say you're trying to live your life in the image of Christ while urging people to pray for God to destroy a man's life and family? Are you prepared for God to use the same measure of judgment on you that you are using for others?

I'm not saying it isn't okay to criticize and disagree, but I think this campaign is going too far. Pray that he will seek God above all else. Pray that he will repent of what he's done wrong. Pray for our nation, and for all nations, that they would turn to God. But don't actively pray to God wishing harm on someone. Don't use the Bible for a source of vicious humor.

There are many people who have absolutely skewered people like George W. Bush and Sarah Palin, and I know it's tempting to give Obama a dose of what we've had to put up with. But really, I'm not interested in getting even. When we resort to this sort of venom, we've become just as low as those to whom we are reacting. I'd rather just leave this sort of speech out of the dialog all together. It can only cause harm, and it reflects badly on Christians who participate. I believe that conservatives have plenty of substantive arguments to make without needing this sort of attack.

Those are my $0.02. What do you think?


  1. i'm not American but it still makes me ill when i see these ideas being laid out there by people who call themselves Christians. what about ACTUALLY praying for your leaders? how about maybe BLESSING your President instead of cursing?

  2. Good find - I am sick of all of the political intolerance and snarky fighting. It's ok with me if you don't like Obama or didn't like Bush, but you don't have to belittle the person and the people that have a different opinion from you.

  3. What do I think? I think you're right. Thanks for posting.

  4. Nicely put. I hadn't seen these yet, probably because here in Korea that wouldn't really make sense. I think that we as Christians definitely need to think more about what we say about all people, whether we agree with them or not. I have to admit that I have said many negative things about Sarah Palin and that wasn't very Christ-like of me. We need to remember to let our speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt... Thanks for the reminder, Mark.

  5. Thanks very much to all of you for your responses.