Psalm 109:8 and Good Faith Biblical Interpretation

The latest popular religious-political brouhaha to erupt involves a new conservative slogan, which is being featured on bumper stickers, t-shirts, coffee mugs, and other items of internet kitsch. The slogan is, “Pray for Obama, Psalm 109:8.”

On the face of it, Psalm 109:8 does seem like an appropriate sentiment for a right-leaning Christian to pray for God to bring onto Obama: “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.”

But the slogan might be worth reexamining when taken with the rest of the text of Psalm 109:

6 Appoint an evil man to oppose him;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.

7 When he is tried, let him be found guilty,
and may his prayers condemn him.

8 May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.

9 May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow.

10 May his children be wandering beggars;
may they be driven from their ruined homes.

11 May a creditor seize all he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.

12 May no one extend kindness to him
or take pity on his fatherless children.

13 May his descendants be cut off,
their names blotted out from the next generation.

14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD;
may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.

15 May their sins always remain before the LORD,
that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.

Bible verses are often quoted in a way that obscures or sanitizes the meaning if taken in context, and the vast majority of the time the “true” meaning is adamantly not implied or suggested by whoever is using the quotation. However, while undoubtedly some people purchasing the Psalm 109 products do so with unawareness of the double meaning, I do not think all who advocate the slogan’s use do so in good faith.

People are defending the “Pray for Obama Psalm 109” slogan even after being informed of the larger and more sinister context of the verse. Those in favor of the slogan argue that they don’t mean the slogan “like that,” so the shirts are merely expressing a benign sentiment. However, what this argument basically boils down to is that it is acceptable to deliberately spread about misinterpretations of the Bible and to obscure the true meaning of God’s word. Somehow, I don’t think that argument is entirely coherent with certain other Biblical passages.

At least one online company has announced it will no longer sell Psalm 109 shirts, although when I checked earlier, the shirt pictured in the image above was still available for purchase. Zazzle says:

With that in mind, it is only after great thought that we have determined that these products, in the context of the full text of Psalm 109, may be interpreted in such a way as to suggest physical harm to the President of the United States. In deference to the Office of the President of the United States, and in accordance with federal law prohibiting the making of threats against the physical wellbeing of the President of the United States, Zazzle has therefore determined that these products are in violation of the Zazzle User Agreement and not appropriate for inclusion in the Zazzle Marketplace. We have begun efforts to remove them from our website, and we will be vigilant to the publication of similar products moving forward.

-Susan

9 thoughts on “Psalm 109:8 and Good Faith Biblical Interpretation

  1. Whatever Obama may have done he does not deserve the vile retribution of such a hateful verse from a bunch of religious weirdo’s who delude themselves into thinking they are God’s chosen ones.

    • Do you feel the same as this might apply to Biden?
      Whatever Obama DID DO will never be pursued unless of course Democrats pursue Trump after leaving office and set that precedent??????????
      For a site run by Lawyers?
      hmmmmm,
      I’m not a bible thumper but I did look this Psalm up.
      The KJV in it’s complete text is making a point of the sinner bringing retribution on themselves (Bad Karma/) IMHO.
      I’m suggesting as I don’t know and either do you that
      The persons who wrote this Psalm are writing to God’s power over evil.
      Not casting vile retribution on to “Undeserving Victims?”
      They are speaking directly to evil not Obama or Biden.
      The T-Shirt above in this article CLEARLY says “A Prayer for Obama”
      Not a Prayer At or To Obama.
      Have a great day !

  2. Cherry picking 6 thru 13 and re writing those words to fit your narrative?
    How Democratic socialist of you.
    The entire WRITTEN text using the KJV debunks your interpreted and progressive Liberal narrative not me….smh.
    I found this in less than a minute on your favorite info search tool… lol
    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm%20109%3A8&version=KJV

    Psalm 109
    King James Version
    109 Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise;

    2 For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue.

    3 They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause.

    4 For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer.

    5 And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love.

    6 Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand.

    7 When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin.

    8 Let his days be few; and let another take his office.

    9 Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.

    10 Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.

    11 Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labour.

    12 Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favour his fatherless children.

    13 Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.

    14 Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the Lord; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out.

    15 Let them be before the Lord continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.

    16 Because that he remembered not to shew mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, that he might even slay the broken in heart.

    17 As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him: as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him.

    18 As he clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment, so let it come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones.

    19 Let it be unto him as the garment which covereth him, and for a girdle wherewith he is girded continually.

    20 Let this be the reward of mine adversaries from the Lord, and of them that speak evil against my soul.

    21 But do thou for me, O God the Lord, for thy name’s sake: because thy mercy is good, deliver thou me.

    22 For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.

    23 I am gone like the shadow when it declineth: I am tossed up and down as the locust.

    24 My knees are weak through fasting; and my flesh faileth of fatness.

    25 I became also a reproach unto them: when they looked upon me they shaked their heads.

    26 Help me, O Lord my God: O save me according to thy mercy:

    27 That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, Lord, hast done it.

    28 Let them curse, but bless thou: when they arise, let them be ashamed; but let thy servant rejoice.

    29 Let mine adversaries be clothed with shame, and let them cover themselves with their own confusion, as with a mantle.

    30 I will greatly praise the Lord with my mouth; yea, I will praise him among the multitude.

    31 For he shall stand at the right hand of the poor, to save him from those that condemn his soul.

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