Prayer of a Person Falsely Accused
1For the leader. A psalm of David.
2O God, whom I praise, do not be silent,a
for wicked and treacherous mouths attack me.
They speak against me with lying tongues;
3with hateful words they surround me,
attacking me without cause.
4In return for my love they slander me,
even though I prayed for them.
5They repay me evil for good,
hatred for my love.b
6Appoint an evil one over him,
an accuser* to stand at his right hand,
7That he may be judged and found guilty,
that his plea may be in vain.
8May his days be few;
may another take his office.c
9May his children be fatherless,
his wife, a widow.d
10May his children wander and beg,
driven from their hovels.
11May the usurer snare all he owns,
strangers plunder all he earns.
12May no one treat him with mercy
or pity his fatherless children.
13May his posterity be destroyed,e
their name rooted out in the next generation.
14May his fathers’ guilt be mentioned to the LORD;
his mother’s sin not rooted out.f
15May their guilt be always before the LORD,g
till their memory is banished from the earth,h
16For he did not remember to show mercy,
but hounded the wretched poor
and brought death to the brokenhearted.
17He loved cursing; may it come upon him;
he hated blessing; may none come to him.
18May cursing clothe him like a robe;
may it enter his belly like water,
his bones like oil.
19May it be near as the clothes he wears,
as the belt always around him.
20*May this be the reward for my accusers from the LORD,
for those speaking evil against me.
21But you, LORD, are my Lord,
deal kindly with me for your name’s sake;
in your great mercy rescue me.
22For I am poor and needy;
my heart is pierced within me.
23Like a lengthening shadow I am gone,
I am shaken off like the locust.
24My knees totter from fasting;i
my flesh has wasted away.
25I have become a mockery to them;
when they see me, they shake their heads.
26Help me, LORD, my God;
save me in your mercy.
27Make them know this is your hand,
that you, LORD, have done this.
28Though they curse, may you bless;
arise, shame them, that your servant may rejoice.
29Clothe my accusers with disgrace;
make them wear their shame like a mantle.
30I will give fervent thanks to the LORD;
before a crowd I will praise him.j
31For he stands at the right hand of the poor
to save him from those who pass judgment on him.
* [Psalm 109] A lament notable for the length and vehemence of its prayer against evildoers (Ps 109:6–20); the cry to God (Ps 109:1) and the complaint (Ps 109:22–25) are brief in comparison. The psalmist is apparently the victim of a slander campaign, potentially devastating in a society where reputation and honor are paramount. In the emotional perspective of the Psalm, there are only two types of people: the wicked and their poor victims. The psalmist is a poor victim (Ps 109:22, 31) and by that fact a friend of God and enemy of the wicked. The psalmist seeks vindication not on the basis of personal virtue but because of God’s promise to protect the poor.
* [109:6] An accuser: Hebrew satan, a word occurring in Jb 1–2 and Zec 3:1–2. In the latter passage Satan stands at the right hand of the high priest to bring false accusations against him before God. Here the accuser is human.