In our Confident Faith series in Sunday School, we looked at a few Psalms that are uncomfortable to read and disconcerting to pray: the judgment or cursing psalms, such as Psalm 58, 69, and 109.
Are these Psalms simply descriptions of how David felt, or are we supposed to pray these as well? I believe the answer is both: David is honestly expressing how he feels to God, and he is also modeling for us how to pray as well.
Audio and notes from the discussion can be found here.
Of voices competing:
God of my praise,
Do not turn a deaf ear.
The wicked scowl and sneer,
Their evil has no peer,
God of my praise.
Give them their sentence just:
Let all their wealth be dust.
My cries I raise:
I sing to whom I trust,
God of my praise.
Zechariah 3 records a vision given to the prophet, and it is one of the most poignant, hopeful images of grace in the Scriptures. Zechariah sees Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of Yahweh (likely Jesus Himself here) and Satan is standing at Joshua’s right side.
Satan is in the position of accuser here, and he has plenty of material to work with. Instead of the robes designed “for beauty and for glory,” Joshua’s robes are filthy–the word signifies that they are soiled with excrement. Yahweh’s commands for purity, cleanliness, and holiness, particularly for the man serving as high priest, are clear and unequivocal. Joshua has no place standing before God like this. It is his shame, and he deserves to be consumed in wrath for it. No doubt, this is the substance of Satan’s accusations against him.
And yet, Jesus does something amazing: He orders Joshua’s filthy clothes to be removed from him and replaced with “splendid robes.” To drive the point home, He says to Joshua, “See, I have removed your guilt from you.” Satan the Accuser has lost all his ammunition; what more can he say when the trial is over? The verdict has been given, and there is no double jeopardy in the courts of Yahweh. This point is also seen in that Satan is neither seen nor heard from for the rest of the vision. Silence is golden–the marvelous silence of no condemnation.
With that context, then, reading Psalm 109 is horrifying. It is the stuff of nightmares–it is hell itself.
Set a wicked person over him;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.
When he is judged, let him be found guilty,
and let his prayer be counted as sin.
Let his days be few;
let another take over his position.
Let his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow.
Let his children wander as beggars;
searching for food far from their demolished homes.
Let a creditor seize all he has;
let strangers plunder what he has worked for.
Let no one show him kindness,
and let no one be gracious to his fatherless children.
Let the line of his descendants be cut off;
let their name be blotted out in the next generation.
Let his forefathers’ guilt be remembered before the LORD,
and do not let his mother’s sin be blotted out.
Let their sins always remain before the LORD,
and let Him cut off all memory of them from the earth (Psalm 109:6-16 HCSB).
The parallels with Zechariah 2-3 are striking.
|Psalm 109||Zechariah 2-3|
|“let an accuser stand at his right hand” (109:6)||“with Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him” (3:1)|
|“let no one show him kindness” (109:12)||“The LORD replied with kind and comforting words” (2:13)|
|“let no one be gracious
to his fatherless children” (109:12)
|“I have graciously returned to Jerusalem” (2:16)
“Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls because of the number of people and livestock in it” (2:4)
|“let his forefathers’ guilt be remembered before the LORD” (109:14)||“‘See, I have removed your guilt from you'” (3:4)|
|“let their sins always remain before the LORD” (109:15)||“See,…I will clothe you with splendid robes” (3:4)
“I will grant you access among these who are standing here” (3:7)
| “Let a creditor seize all he has;
let strangers plunder what he has worked for” (109:11)
|“On that day, each of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and fig tree” (3:10)|
We also can’t ignore that Psalm 109:8 was the justification for replacing Judas as apostle. Thus, we are presented with two possible outcomes for our lives: Judas or Joshua.
Being born again means that Jesus has declared us to be unworthy of our filthy robes and worthy of His splendid robes. He has declared this to be true, and then He and the Father give the Holy Spirit to dwell within us to actually make us unworthy and worthy. Jesus does this because even though He was only worthy of splendid robes of holiness and righteousness, He takes our hateful, filthy robes of sin off of us and puts them on Himself. He wraps us in the splendid robes we had no business looking at, much less wearing.
“See, I have removed your guilt from you, and I will clothe you with splendid robes.”
“Then I heard something like the voice of a vast multitude, like the sound of cascading waters, and like the rumbling of loud thunder, saying:
Hallelujah–because our Lord God, the Almighty has begun to reign!
Let us be glad, rejoice, and give Him glory,
because the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and His wife has prepared herself.
She was permitted to wear fine linen, bright and pure.
For the fine linen represents the righteous acts of the saints. … The armies that were in heaven followed Him on white horses, wearing pure white linen” (Revelation 19:6-8, 14 HCSB)
So, what are you wearing?