A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

A model prayer for victims of abuse — Psalm 109

God of my praise, do not be silent.

For wicked and deceitful mouths open against me;
they speak against me with lying tongues.
They surround me with hateful words
and attack me without cause.
In return for my love they accuse me,
but I continue to pray.
They repay me evil for good,
and hatred for my love.

David now prays that God will afflict his abuser:

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. . . 
11 Let a creditor seize all he has;
let strangers plunder what he has worked for.
12 Let no one show him kindness . . . 
14 Let his ancestors’ guilt
be remembered before the Lord,
and do not let his mother’s sin be blotted out.
15 Let their sins always remain before the Lord,
and let Him erase all memory of them from the earth.

David now describes in more detail the abuser’s wicked behavior, showing why his prayer request is justified:

16 For he did not think to show kindness,
but pursued the afflicted, poor, and brokenhearted
in order to put them to death.
17 He loved cursing—let it fall on him;
he took no delight in blessing—let it be far from him.
18 He wore cursing like his coat—
let it enter his body like water
and go into his bones like oil.
19 Let it be like a robe he wraps around himself,
like a belt he always wears.
20 Let this be the Lord’s payment to my accusers,
to those who speak evil against me.

David now laments by pouring out his suffering and distress:

21 But You, Yahweh my Lord,
deal kindly with me because of Your name;
deliver me because of the goodness of Your faithful love.
22 For I am afflicted and needy;
my heart is wounded within me.
23 I fade away like a lengthening shadow;
I am shaken off like a locust.
24 My knees are weak from fasting,
and my body is emaciated.
25 I have become an object of ridicule to my accusers
when they see me, they shake their heads in scorn.

And lastly, David affirms God’s goodness and faithfulness:

26 Help me, Lord my God;
save me according to Your faithful love
27 so they may know that this is Your hand
and that You, Lord, have done it.
28 Though they curse, You will bless.
When they rise up, they will be put to shame,
but Your servant will rejoice.
29 My accusers will be clothed with disgrace;
they will wear their shame like a cloak.
30 I will fervently thank the Lord with my mouth;
I will praise Him in the presence of many.
31 For He stands at the right hand of the needy
to save him from those who would condemn him.

Psalm 109, Holman Christian Standard Bible
A Davidic psalm.

14 Comments

  1. a prodigal daughter returns

    Thank you Barbara, These timeless words are a comfort like none other. Heaven and earth may pass away, abusers will pass away, seasons of sorrow will end, but the Word of God will never fail. God works these things out over time. I’ve watched my abusers seem to thrive and prosper while I suffered the consequences of their abuse. Yet, eventually they meet with calamity. Their judgement is coming because God is just

  2. Still Reforming

    It’s an indictment on the contemporary church that they neglect the imprecatory psalms.

  3. In Jeff’s sermon today he referred to Jeremiah 18:18-23. The passage is astoundingly similar to Psalm 109.

    Then they said, “Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah, for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us strike him with the tongue, and let us not pay attention to any of his words.”

    Hear me, O LORD,
    and listen to the voice of my adversaries.
    Should good be repaid with evil?
    Yet they have dug a pit for my life.
    Remember how I stood before you
    to speak good for them,
    to turn away your wrath from them.
    Therefore deliver up their children to famine;
    give them over to the power of the sword;
    let their wives become childless and widowed.
    May their men meet death by pestilence,
    their youths be struck down by the sword in battle.
    May a cry be heard from their houses,
    when you bring the plunderer suddenly upon them!
    For they have dug a pit to take me
    and laid snares for my feet.
    Yet you, O LORD, know
    all their plotting to kill me.
    Forgive not their iniquity,
    nor blot out their sin from your sight.
    Let them be overthrown before you;
    deal with them in the time of your anger.

    “forgive not their iniquity” — if you said that in most churches today they would label you a heretic. But Jeremiah was saying this from divine inspiration.

    • Verse 23 of what I quoted above says —

      Forgive not their iniquity,
      nor blot out their sin from your sight.
      Let them be overthrown before you;
      deal with them in the time of your anger.

      The ESV Study Bible has a note about that verse. The note reads:

      Jeremiah now fully agrees with God’s assessment of and plans for Judah.

      God had assessed Judah as so disobedient and wicked that he was about to let Bablyon take them over.

      God has assessed unrepentant domestic abusers as disobedient and wicked and He wants them put out of the church and He will be sending them to hell.

      Like Jeremiah, we can fully agree with God’s assessment and plans for abusers.

  4. IamMyBeloved's

    Well now Barb, I have to say that God’s timing is impeccable! Having been served a few days ago for yet another round, this post is refreshing and timely. Remind me why this type of prayer still pertains today. I am oft confused by the NT pastors preaching that we are now to love all our enemies who hate us, and pray for their salvation. I seem to get stuck here a bit..

    Funny, we don’t see Jesus love anyone who is wicked (ie Pharisees or evil workers), nor does He tell any of the wicked that He loves them. Loving our enemies is simply not repaying evil to them or retaliating against them. I am called to be being made into the image of Christ, right? Right. So if I saw Jesus embracing those wicked people in His day, or blowing kisses to them, or telling them how much He loved them and begging them to receive the Gospel, then I would do the same. But, that is not what I see.

    I once heard a pastor say that when God rids the world of an evil, wicked person, that all of Heaven Itself stands, applauds and rejoices at their departure.

  5. LadyinWaiting

    This is what I needed today. No matter what happens I can pray this prayer and feel comforted that God is my abusers ultimate judge and he will be tried fairly and justly for what he has done.

    • Hi LadyinWaiting
      welcome to the blog and thanks for your encouraging comment. 🙂
      We always direct new commenters to our New Users Info page so if you haven’t already read it, you might like to check it out.

  6. listening ear

    Hi
    boy, praying this prayer seems dangerous….anymore comments on justification for praying in this manner?

    • Hi listening ear
      I don’t want to seem abrupt but I just want to check, did you read my comment in this thread above? (link)

  7. listening ear

    yes, but hesitant to pray “deliver their children up to famine” as I pray for my children to be protected from their father the abuser…thanks

    • IamMyBeloved's

      Listening Ear, Are you saying that somehow you are wiser or more kind than God? That you know better how to deal with wickedness than God does? Iniquity often passes from generation to generation. That is why God got rid of evil by eradicating generations. God is not cruel or unkind and is just in all His ways. I personally desire to be found standing on God’s side when all is said and done. He is always right, just and fair and knows an unspeakable amount more about goodness and justice than I could ever even pretend to know. : )

    • I understand your hesitation there, listening ear. In fact, you may notice that I skipped two verses from 109 when I published it here (see the two elipses in the post). Certainly as a protective mother/parent you probably would not want to pray that the children you bore to the abuser be delivered up to famine, especially if they are still under age. If they are adults and have gone the moral way of the abuser, that might (might, not must) be a different story.

      Inferring how to apply scripture to current situations is to be done with wisdom. The two fundamental guidelines are (1) that our applications and inferences be in accord with the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) or at least not running directly counter to the whole counsel of God. And (2) that we recognise that it’s not always right to make a point by point (isomorphic) application in every detail. Sorry if I’m teaching you what you already know. 🙂

      Just for interest, you might like to read this post: The perspicuity of Scripture, and how some put a grille on the view.

  8. listening ear

    Thank you Barbara for such a discerning response.

  9. healinginhim

    Revisiting this post and praying. “Dear Lord, hear my prayer.”

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