When I first started praying through the psalms, I used to get tripped up on psalms like Psalm 109. In this psalm David seems vengeful and angry. How could David pray that his enemies’ children would become wandering beggars (v. 10)? There are a couple of important perspectives to keep in mind.
First, humans are sinful and often treat each other in terrible ways. A casual glance at news headlines on any given day will confirm this truth all too clearly. In Psalm 109, David had suffered at the hands of people who falsely accused him (v. 2). This was a serious situation that could potentially be life-threatening. David also informs us that he was not their only victim. These people “hounded to death the poor and the needy and the brokenhearted” (v. 16). How should we respond in this type of situation? How should we pray in the face of deep human evil directed against us?
Second, what David does in this psalm is communicate his anger, hatred, and frustration before God. He is honest about how he feels. Sometimes when we are deeply wounded, disturbing thoughts and feelings well up in us. David takes those desires and lays them before God in a straightforward way (vv. 6–20). By doing this, David makes his anger against his enemies a part of his relationship with God. It is reassuring to realize that God is big enough to handle our honesty. David begs God to act in this situation and then, appropriately, leaves his circumstances in God’s hands.
The New Testament clarifies that Jesus not only hears prayers like this from us but also, He Himself experienced injustice. Like David, Jesus was falsely accused and betrayed by someone He loved (vv. 4–5).
>> Do you struggle with bitter feelings toward those who have wronged you? Follow David’s example and bring those emotions honestly before God. Then pray that He will go before you in that difficult situation, showing you how to respond and acting on your behalf.
God of Justice, though You have laid claim to vengeance, we still grapple with the injuries of evil directed at ourselves. We ask for Your justice upon those who harm us—and also for the power to extend love and forgiveness to them.