Reading: Psalm 109
Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.
When he is tried, let him be found guilty,
and may his prayers condemn him.
May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.
May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.
May his children be wandering beggars;
may they be driven from their ruined homes.
May a creditor seize all he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.
May no one extend kindness to him
or take pity on his fatherless children.
May his descendants be cut off,
their names blotted out from the next generation.
May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD;
may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.
May their sins always remain before the LORD,
that he may blot out their name from the earth (NIV).*
This portion of Psalm 109 contains fourteen mays of condemnation. After reading this long list of curses spoken against this unnamed individual, it becomes abundantly clear that David, the author of this psalm, was not affectionately inclined toward this man of treachery. This man, who earlier was identified as a friend, had turned against David. In the verse just prior to today’s reading, David laments, “They repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship” (Psalm 109:5).
Psalm 109 is called an imprecatory psalm. The word imprecatory simply is a fancy term for cursing. I am sure many Christians are unaware that there is cursing in the Bible—cursing coming from the man who penned Psalm 23—the LORD is my shepherd.
Many find the imprecatory psalms deeply troubling. I include myself in that number. Does God condone calling down curses on our enemies? What about the words of Jesus? “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” (Matthew 5:43-46).
I remain convinced that Jesus calls us to live on a higher plane—the plane where he dwells.
Response: Father God, I need your help. I find it easy to lash out at those who have hurt me. When I want to go for the jugular help me reach out for the wisdom and compassion of Jesus instead. I want to be more like you, Jesus. Amen.
Your Turn: Is there a place for the imprecatory psalms in the Bible? What purpose might they serve?
* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Today’s verse from the Psalms
you are matchless.
There is none like you.
Your compassion is astonishing.
Your grandeur is beyond my ability to even imagine.
I love you, LORD.
I bow in awe.
Reading: Psalm 103
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
But from everlasting to everlasting
the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts (NIV).*
Last week I heard a news report that stated that new research has led astronomers to realize that there are ten times more stars in the universe than they previously estimated. A minor miscalculation you may assume. Not really!
Our own Milky Way galaxy contains about 400 billion stars of varying sizes. The most recent astronomical estimate counts 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe. To do a rough calculation of the total number of stars in the universe, you multiply 400 billion stars X 170 billion galaxies and get a number with twenty-five zeroes tacked on the end. Now that’s astronomical!
So how does that ginormous number connect with today’s reading from Psalm 103? It tells us the LORD’s concern and care for us are nothing short of astounding. The God who created all that vast array of stars cares even for you and me. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
Dust… We are nothing more than dust. From dust we were formed and to dust we will return. (See Genesis 3:19.) Yet despite our humble origin and our body’s grave fate, we have a God who has the compassion of a father for his children. Furthermore, this care and compassion is not fleeting; it’s eternal. Our time on earth may be transitory, but God’s love for us persists. But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children’s children—with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.
Why would a God of such infinite capacity commit Himself to a creature of such miniscule significance? The LORD is mind-boggling; God is completely mind-boggling! You can see it in the stars. You can count it in the grains of dust—dust that the LORD loves!
Response: Father God, you are matchless. There is none like you. Your compassion is astonishing. Your grandeur is beyond my ability to even imagine. I love you, LORD. I bow in awe. Amen.
Your Turn: How big is your God? How tiny are you before this awesome God? How does knowing His love make you feel?
* New International Version, Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica
Reading: Psalm 102
But you, LORD, sit enthroned forever;
your renown endures through all generations.
You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to show favor to her;
the appointed time has come.
For her stones are dear to your servants;
her very dust moves them to pity.
The nations will fear the name of the LORD,
all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.
For the LORD will rebuild Zion
and appear in his glory.
He will respond to the prayer of the destitute;
he will not despise their plea (NIV).*
Psalm 102 begins as a lament, but today’s reading is drawn from the mid portion of the psalm, and rather than despair and grief, this section is filled with hope and promise. Though at present we may be plagued by troubles, a turning point is coming. This is the hope we have when we truly know our God.
Despite experiencing the troubles and difficulties of an afflicted person, this is the psalmist’s personal confession: But you, LORD, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations. You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come.
What about you and me? Is the LORD enthroned as the Lord of my life? Is He calling the shots? Have I stopped to listen for His voice, or do I simply plunge ahead into my day without giving any thought to His will or His plans for me?
By the way the LORD has plans for you that are nothing short of amazing. Here’s a look at the LORD’s plans according to Psalm 102: You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come.
This is the promise that we all have as believers. A time is coming when the LORD will show us His favor. It is an appointed time. You can be sure that the LORD keeps His appointments. He will show up in our lives to favor us—to bestow His grace. What a magnificent promise that is!
Do I know when that appointed time will come? No, I don’t. It’s the LORD’s appointment, not mine. He will arise and show compassion on His people. My responsibility is to be numbered among His people—the faithful ones of Zion. That brings us back to considering who is enthroned as the King of our lives. Lord Jesus, this is my confession: I want you enthroned in my heart forever.
Response: Heavenly Father, reign in my life. Jesus, you are King forever. I bow my knee to you. Give me ears that hear what you are saying to me today and always. I wait with faith and expectation for you to show me your favor. Amen.
Your Turn: Have you experienced the Lord’s favor? What did that look like?