Psalms 107-111
(Curse Our Enemies?)
June 23rd

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

Give us aid against the enemy,
    for human help is worthless.

- Psalm 108:12 (NIV)

Summary of Chapters

This group of Psalms begins the fifth and final book of Psalms and also covers a lot of theological ground. Topics include giving thanks for rescue from different types of trials, imprecatory verses that curse enemies, and a messianic prophesy. Above all, this group emphasizes that wisdom comes from fearing the LORD and from considering his great love for us.

Psalm 107 describes a series of trials and then describes how God overcame each situation. The situations described were people wandering, people in darkness, and people who became fools through their rebellion. Each stanza of problem and solution includes a praise refrain: “Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for me (107:8; also 15, 21, and 31 - NIV).” The author concludes this Psalm by emphasizing that the wise will “heed these things (107:43 - NIV)” and understand the “great love of the LORD (107:43 - NIV).”

Psalms 108 and 109 are presumed to have been written by David. Number 108 is very similar to 57 and 60 that we read recently. Psalm 109 stands out as a call for help with a very specific list of vindictive curses defined by the author, who says exactly what is on his heart and mind. He not only asks God to take away the man’s life, but also asks for the children to be cursed:

    Send the Evil One to accuse my accusing judge;
           dispatch Satan to prosecute him.
        When he's judged, let the verdict be "Guilty,"
           and when he prays, let his prayer turn to sin.
        Give him a short life,
           and give his job to somebody else.
        Make orphans of his children,
           dress his wife in widow's weeds;
        Turn his children into begging street urchins,
           evicted from their homes—homeless.
        May the bank foreclose and wipe him out,
           and strangers, like vultures, pick him clean.
        May there be no one around to help him out,
           no one willing to give his orphans a break.
        Chop down his family tree
           so that nobody even remembers his name.

    - Psalm 109:6-15 (MSG)

With regard to himself, David asks for salvation and commits to publicly praise the LORD.

Today's reading concludes with two relatively short Psalms (although not as short as one coming up in the next group). The 110th Psalm describes the forthcoming arrival and victory of the Messiah, who will sit at the right hand of God. From this position he will crush kings and judge the nations. Psalm 111 summarizes the power, the goodness and the redeeming nature of the LORD and ends with advice for finding wisdom:

    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever.

    - Psalm 111:10 (KJV)

Reflection and Application

The situations in Psalm 107 describe actual events in Israel’s history. These descriptions could also apply to modern experiences of physical or spiritual trials in which we are lost, hungry, thirsty, or imprisoned, or subject to the powerful forces of the world over which we have no control.

In this Psalm, the sea represents a force that cannot be controlled by man (although God can control it). In our modern era, we may conclude that the sea is still beyond our control as we have witnessed tsunamis and hurricanes that strike with terrifying force and tear away at what man has built. We might also consider the uncontrolled force of economic disasters – though created by man; they are not fully controllable by man.

Psalm 109 can be grouped together with Psalms 35 and 69 in a category called imprecatory Psalms, meaning that the author asks God to curse his enemies. This Psalm might be the most intense of the group, but in each case the author asks God to deliver the punishment instead of trying to be a vigilante. It may seem like strong language to us, but the psalmist and his contemporaries had strong feelings in these areas because they knew the difference between right and wrong.

The psalmist says he offered friendship and goodness, perhaps even after they did evil to him. Jesus commands us to love our enemies (and hate their sins). Today, let us pray for those who accost us. We can be cautious to protect ourselves, but we honor God by praying for their salvation as well as asking for the strength to forgive. A group of strong role models can be found at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. On June 19th, 2015, the family members of the victims who were murdered during a Bible Study in their church two days earlier had an opportunity to face the young man who committed this heinous crime. They told him the pain he had caused them and reminded him that he had been welcomed into the study with open arms before he had pulled out his gun to kill nine innocent people including the pastor. But somehow, they also found room in their hearts to forgive the young man. "I will never be able to hold her again, but I forgive you," a daughter of Ethel Lance (one of the victims) said. "And have mercy on your soul. You hurt me. You hurt a lot of people but God forgives you, and I forgive you(1)."

Two of today's Psalms conclude with a statement on wisdom. If we want to be wise today we can take these two bits of advice as our starting point. The one at the end of 107 tells us that the wise are the ones who remember all that God has done and attribute the goodness and their fortune to him. Psalm 111 ends by saying the path to wisdom is to fear God – which means to respect and revere him as our ultimate ruler. These two thoughts are consistent as we give attribution to God and recognize him as the permanent Boss. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever (107:1 - NIV).”

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

Related Questions

  1. What would you consider to be the most uncontrollable force on earth?
  2. What experiences have you had turning an enemy into a friend?
  3. What prayers would you like to say to God regarding your enemies?

Recommended Prayer
God, we recognize that your works are great and that you have rescued us over and over. Please help us to seek wisdom and to fear you in a healthy way.

Suggested Prayer Concerns
Our enemies


(1) Ralph Ellis, Greg Botelho and Ed Payne, CNN,
"Charleston church shooter hears victim's kin say, 'I forgive you'," 19-June-2015

Looking Ahead

Tomorrow's reading: Psalms 112-118 (The Center)

Comments and Questions

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