Psalm 109 – “Imprecation”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
The psalmist proclaims his innocence and asks God to punish his enemies severely.

II. Photo
The psalmist curses his enemies: “My accusers shall be clothed in shame, wrapped in their disgrace as in a robe!” (v. 29)

III. Select Verses    
2-5: The wicked and the deceitful open their mouth against me; they speak to me with lying tongue. They encircle me with words of hate; they attack me without cause. They answer my love with accusation and I must stand judgment.  They repay me with evil for good, with hatred for my love.
8-13: May his days be few; may another take over his position. May his children be orphans, his wife a widow.  May his children wander from their hovels, begging in search of [bread].  May his creditor seize all his possessions; may strangers plunder his wealth.  May no one show him mercy; may none pity his orphans;  may his posterity be cut off; may their names be blotted out in the next generation
14: May God be ever mindful of his father’s iniquity, and may the sin of his mother not be blotted out.
17: He loved to curse — may a curse come upon him! He would not bless — may blessing be far from him!

IV. Outline
1a. Superscription
1b. Invocation, initial plea
2-5. Rationale, Complaint, Proclamation of innocence
6-20. Imprecation, Rationale
21. Petition
22-25. Rationale, Complaint
26-27. Petition, Rationale
28-29. Hope / Imprecation
30-31. Vow, Rationale

V. Comment
Psalm 109 has been labeled by many a “curse psalm.” Indeed, verses 6-20 contain some of the harshest imprecations in the entire psalter:

  • vv. 8-10: May his days be few; may another take over his position. May his children be orphans, his wife a widow. May his children wander from their hovels, begging in search of [bread].
  • vv. 12-13: May no one show him mercy; may none pity his orphans; may his posterity be cut off; may their names be blotted out in the next generation.
  • v. 17: He loved to curse — may a curse come upon him! He would not bless — may blessing be far from him!

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Gerstenberger, Erhard. Psalms Part 2 and Lamentations (Forms of Old Testament Literature; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001).
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