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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Psalms 109

In Psalm 109, as in the following, it is about Christ. Both are messianic psalms. In Psalm 109 we hear about the suffering of Christ and in Psalm 110 we hear about the glorification of Christ. In Psalm 109, Christ as the suffering Servant of the LORD prays for salvation; in Psalm 110, God answers Him by saving Him from death and exalting Him (cf. Heb 5:7-10).

Christ’s suffering here is suffering because of the rejection by His own (cf. Jn 1:11), just as Joseph was rejected by Judah and his brothers. Prophetically, the same will happen to the faithful remnant which is rejected by the antichrist and his followers. We recognize the rejection in the false accusation by the wicked of the believers.

When we think about the suffering of Christ, we will always have to distinguish between the suffering (singular) of Christ to reconcile us to God, and the sufferings (plural) of Christ on the side of men. In the first suffering (singular) He is unique. No one shares in it with Him. In the second, the sufferings (plural), He is a perfect example for believers of all ages who have to suffer in this depraved world.

Because the suffering is caused by the enemies, this psalm also has the character of a prayer for justice. There is talk of judgment (Psa 109:7).

Verses 1-5

Love Repaid With Hate

For “for the choir director” (Psa 109:1a) see at Psalm 4:1.

For “a Psalm of David” see at Psalm 3:1.

The psalm begins (Psa 109:1b) and ends (Psa 109:30-31) with praising God. The psalm begins with the God worthy of praise and ends with a jubilant song in a large congregation. This makes this psalm an ‘envelope psalm’. Although this psalm – like Psalm 22 and Psalm 69 – is about the suffering of Christ, victory is so certain that ‘the envelope’ of this psalm is not an envelope of mourning, but of praises.

David addresses God as the “God of my praise”. God is the object of his personal (“my”) praise. He has a personal relationship with God. In his dealings with his God, he has come to know God in many ways. In all the circumstances in which he has been, God has helped him and assisted him. As a result, God has become the God of his praise. We, too, have countless reasons to praise God, by which God can and will be the God of our praise for us personally.

To that God he cries out emphatically, “O God”, not to be silent. It indicates that David is in distress. It is because of the cruelty and unreasonableness of the enemy. Therefore, he cries out to God. But God is silent, He does not answer (yet). His answer comes in the first verse of Psalm 110 (Psa 110:1). In the following verses, David says why he cries out to God.

He desperately needs help, for “the wicked one” has opened his mouth, a “deceitful mouth” against him (Psa 109:2). In “the wicked”, singular, we see the antichrist (cf. Psa 52:2-4), the mouthpiece of the devil, the father of lies. Those who follow the wicked one speak “with a lying tongue” against him (cf. Mt 26:59).

They not only speak deceitful, lying words against and with him, but also “with words of hatred” (Psa 109:3). Psa 109:2 shows us the outside, words of wickedness, of deceit, and of lies. Psa 109:3 gives us a glimpse of the inside: hatred, and without cause. Hatred is their motive (Psa 109:5b). They even “surrounded” him with words of hatred. It’s not just an occasional lie, but they do nothing else. And they do so even though there is no cause to do so. David complains: “They … fought against me without cause.” More than of David, this is true of the Lord Jesus. We therefore hear the Spirit of Christ speaking in David (Acts 2:30-31).

That it is in fact about Christ, Christ Himself makes clear. He quotes this verse in His conversation with the disciples just before His going to the cross (Jn 15:24-25). He tells of the hatred the Jews harbor against Him. There is no reason for them to hate Him. After all, He has always been among them in love and grace and goodness. Yet they hated Him (Psa 38:19). It proves the wickedness of man’s heart and the truth of God’s Word.

The deep reason for the opposition of the wicked and his followers is, says the Lord Jesus, “My love” (Psa 109:4). Here we also clearly hear the Lord Jesus speaking, Who experienced this truthfully in His life on earth. Also, the response to all false accusations and charges can only apply to Christ. Only He can say: “I am prayer.” He places against all enmity His utter dependence on His God to Whom He entrusted Himself and all things (1Pet 2:23b).

His whole life was characterized by an attitude of prayer. The word ‘[in]’ is not in the original Bible text. This added word weakens the power of what is written. ‘Being prayer’ is more than ‘being in prayer’. There is only one Person Who can say He ‘was prayer’ in His life on earth and that is the Lord Jesus.

He has not merely been ignored, but the opposite of what He is and does is given to Him. He has done nothing but good (Acts 10:38), but instead of being grateful for it they repay Him “evil for good” (Psa 109:5; Psa 35:12a; Psa 38:20). The same is true of the greatest contradiction imaginable, that of love and hate. He proved only love to everyone with whom He came into contact. Instead of being attracted by His love, they hated Him and pushed Him away. How icy and hard as stone is the heart of the sinner!

Verses 6-15

The Curse for the Traitor

In this section, David, through the Spirit of Christ, pronounces a particularly penetrating and comprehensive curse on the wicked and his posterity. Psa 109:8b is quoted by Peter in Acts 1 (Acts 1:20). The context in which the quotation appears in Acts 1 (Acts 1:15-26) makes it clear that here in Psalm 109 it is prophetically about Judas, the betrayer of the Lord Jesus.

Of all the enemies, Judas is the enemy who has been closest to Him. Judas has known Him best and in spite of that has turned against Him, the Righteous One, in the greatest apostasy. A greater wickedness cannot be imagined. The curse called upon him is fully deserved. Here it is not about revenge for injustice suffered, but judgment for the greatest injustice ever done.

The curse begins with God appointing “a wicked man over him”, that is over Judas (Psa 109:6). This “wicked man” is satan. Satan means ‘adversary’ or ‘accuser’. Satan also stands “at his right hand” to accuse him (cf. Zec 3:1; Rev 12:10). After Judas performed his repugnant act of betrayal under satan’s urging (Lk 22:3), the same satan drives Judas in his hopeless despair to the act of suicide (Mt 27:3-4).

Judas has done the work of satan, and satan ‘rewards’ him for it with the only reward he has to give: death. He who does the work of satan finds in him no defender, but a prosecutor who fills him with the utmost remorse. Satan does and can do nothing but steal and kill and destroy (Jn 10:10a).

Judas is judged and has come forth guilty (Psa 109:7). He does not receive a sentence reduction and leaves this life as a guilty man. He has received the wages of sin, death (Rom 6:23). The prayer he utters: “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood” (Mt 27:4), is a prayer uttered against his better judgment. It is a prayer uttered only to be delivered from the consequences of sin. It is not sincere, it does not involve repentance for the sin committed. Such a prayer becomes sin. Sin literally means ‘missing the goal’, here it means that the prayer will have no result.

If a person serves God faithfully, the promise is that his days will be increased (Deu 6:1-2; Pro 3:1-2). That promise is not always fulfilled during a person’s life on earth. We see this in the life of the Lord Jesus. He was killed in the midst of His days on earth (Psa 102:24a). But He receives His days after His resurrection and those days are without end. With Judas, the meaning of the word that “his days be few” (cf. Psa 37:35-36) is that they are limited to earthly life. After his heinous act of suicide, he has come into the place of pain to be consigned later to eternal fire by the Judge on the great white throne.

The second part of Psa 109:8, as indicated above, is applied by Peter to Judas. Peter explicitly says that what is said here is “fulfilled” in what happened to Judas (Acts 1:16). This makes the whole psalm a prophetic testimony. “His office” is his apostleship. The “other” who takes his office is Matthias (Acts 1:26).

The Lord Jesus had chosen Judas to be an apostle (Jn 6:70-71), not to become His traitor. That He became the traitor was because of his greed. To that he gave in and became a thief. As a result, he opened himself to the devil.

In addition to judgment on himself, Judas’ act also affects his children, his wife, his possessions, his environment, and his memory and the memory of his posterity. This is described in Psa 109:9-15. A person who sins not only violates his own soul. He always drags others into his fall (Jos 22:20; 2Sam 3:29). As someone has said, the way away from God you don't go alone (cf. Exo 20:5).

Here it is about Judas as a type of the antichrist. Both Judas and the antichrist are called “the son of perdition” or “the son of destruction” (Jn 17:12; 2Thes 2:3). The followers of the antichrist are painted here as his family.

Through his suicide, Judas’ “children” become “fatherless” and “his wife” becomes a “widow” (Psa 109:9). Regardless of the reason for the death through suicide, a suicide always has a great impact on the lives of the family, friends and acquaintances left behind. It is a deed of selfishness that no longer considers the impact this deed has on others.

The consequence of his deed is also that “his children wander about and beg” and “seek [sustenance] far from their ruined homes” (Psa 109:10; cf. Jer 18:21). Because the children have lost their father, they now have to make a living on their own. To do this, they must go begging. The place where they lived has become a desolate place. They no longer have a home.

Judas was a thief (Jn 12:6). After his death, “the creditor seizes all that he has” (Psa 109:11; cf. 2Kgs 4:1). Also, “strangers plunder the product of his labor”. This makes the situation of his descendants even more dramatic.

Because he himself has not shown lovingkindness, he will also have “none to extend lovingkindness to him” (Psa 109:12). No one will be “gracious to his fatherless children”. They are seen as most closely associated with this evil work of betrayal. Their father committed the greatest betrayal ever.

For the posterity of Judas, there is no future. The only thing waiting for them is to be “cut off” (Psa 109:13). As a result, “their name” will “be blotted out” in a following generation. There will be no one left who will think of them. While “the memory of the righteous is blessed”, “the memory” of the wicked “perishes from the earth” (Pro 10:7; Job 18:17).

“The iniquity of his fathers” is a reference to his ancestry and also we see a reference to original sin (Psa 109:14). Judas, like every human being, comes from a family that has done iniquity. The expression “original sin” refers to the sinful nature of man. Sin entered the world through one man, Adam, causing all men to sin (Rom 5:12).

This is to be “remembered before the LORD continually” with respect to Judas, that is, there is no substitute for Judas. Children are not lost because of the iniquities of the parents, but because of their own iniquities. Those iniquities do come from a nature inherited from the ancestors.

Also the mentioning of “the sin of his mother” points to original sin. It is not about a specific deed of his mother, but about what she imparted to him in bringing Judas into the world. That can “not … be blotted out”. By birth he has become a sinner, which is evident from his deeds.

All this does not mean that sinful deeds can never be blotted out. We are talking here about Judas as a type of the antichrist and his not repented deed and sinful life. From anyone who acknowledges that he has a corrupted nature and has lived according to that nature, sins can be blotted out. This happens when sins are sincerely confessed and it is acknowledged that they have come from a corrupted nature. Such a person may know that Christ has accomplished the necessary sacrifice to be reconciled to God, by which God no longer remembers sins because He has blotted them out.

The last verse of the curse speaks on the one hand of a “continual” remembrance and on the other hand of a “cut off … from the earth” (Psa 109:15). On the one hand, the LORD must continually keep in mind the iniquity and sin that has happened on earth. On the other hand, the earth must be cleansed of any memory of Judas, and of people like him. Their influence must not be present anywhere on earth in the realm of peace.

Verses 16-20

The Reason for the Curse

The word “because” with which Psa 109:16 begins indicates that now follows the reason for the curses pronounced above. The thought of showing “lovingkindness” was completely absent from Judas (cf. Mt 18:21-35). Instead of showing lovingkindness he “persecuted the afflicted and needy man and the despondent in heart”. Again, this blatantly refers to the Lord Jesus. Judas set out “to put to death” this afflicted and needy Man, the Despondent in heart.

Judas was not destined to be cursed, he chose to be cursed, for “he loved the curse” (Psa 109:17). He found his joy in cursing others. Therefore, it is rightly requested that the curse be brought upon him. Also, God does not withhold the blessing from him, but he refuses it, because “he did not delight in blessing”. Therefore, it is right that the blessing “was far from him”. In both cases, this is a confirmation of Judas’ choice.

His choice shows that he is clothed with cursing “as with his garment” (Psa 109:18; cf. Job 29:14). The curse is on him. But not only in his appearance, which ‘his garment’ indicates, is the curse visible. The curse has “entered into his body like water”. It is something that invigorates him. He lives and moves by it; it has entered “like oil into his bones”. It is like lubricant to his joints.

In other words, Psa 109:19 reiterates what has already been said in Psa 109:18. It shows how much he and the curse belong together. The curse does not rest on him, but he feels comfortable in it, he envelops himself in it. It is the strength of his life, of which the “belt” speaks “with which he constantly girds himself”.

The curse is “the reward”, something he has earned (Psa 109:20). It is like “death”, which is “the wages of sin” (Rom 6:23; cf. Jam 1:13-15). However, this “reward” is not only for Judas, but for all “accusers” of the Lord Jesus. This opposition is evidenced by “evil speaking” against His soul. People who will not bow down to Him always speak evil of Him. To speak evil of Him Who is only and perfectly good is to blaspheme Him. It is the work of the devil. This work deserves no other than eternal death.

Verses 21-29

Prayer for God’s Help

Christ never defended Himself against all the injustice done to Him and all the evil spoken about Him. With the words “but You” He turned to “GOD, the Lord” and asked Him to deal kindly with Him (Psa 109:21). The word “but” indicates the contrast between the dealings of Judas and that of His God to Whom He turns.

He appeals to the Name of GOD, the Lord, for He has always honored His Name and always done everything in that Name. The answer to prayer is to the glory of His Name. That is true of the prayer of Christ, it is also true of the prayer of the remnant. Therefore, He counts on God’s lovingkindness which is good. He knows that lovingkindness like no other and He knows how good it is. He has always experienced it. That has been the strength of His life. Also now He knows that God’s lovingkindness is there for Him.

He points God to His condition: He is “afflicted and needy” (Psa 109:22; Psa 109:16; Psa 40:17). He mentions it as a pleading ground before God, that God may help Him. He does not take the law into His own hands, for He had not come to earth to judge, but to do the will of God. This meant undergoing the greatest possible injustice and suffering. Inwardly He deeply suffered because of all that was said against and about Him. We hear this when He says: “My heart is wounded within me” (cf. Psa 22:14b; Psa 69:20a).

He felt His life flowing away, which He describes meaningfully “like a shadow when it lengthens” (Psa 109:23; cf. Psa 102:11). A shadow proves that there is a person, while the person himself is not seen. There is no power in it. A lengthening shadow indicates the setting of the sun and the falling of the night of death. By his surroundings he is “shaken off like the locust”. To them He is as a troublesome insect that you remove from your body with a shaking movement. No one gives a penny for his life anymore.

The strength to walk is gone because the “knees are weak from fasting” (Psa 109:24; cf. Heb 12:12). We see this when the Lord Jesus had to carry the cross. He suffered so much from all the ill-treatments that His strength was pressed down on the road (Psa 102:23). That is why they seize Simon of Cyrene to carry the cross of Christ after Him (Lk 23:26). At the same time, zeal for God’s house consumed Him, so that His “flesh has grown lean, without fatness” (cf. Psa 22:17a).

Despite His pitiful condition as a result of His commitment to God and the people, He has become “a reproach to them” (Psa 109:25; cf. Psa 69:19). They mocked Him. “They wagged their head” in disgust when they saw Him (Mt 27:39). This contempt for the perfect Man Whose deeds and words were full of mercy is an indescribable crime.

The Lord Jesus is deeply troubled by all this blasphemy and mistreatment. He lifts Himself up, not to strike down His opponents, but to cry out to the “LORD my God” to help Him (Psa 109:26). He asks if His God in His faithfulness will save Him according to His lovingkindness from the great need in which He is. The need is so great that the Lord asks for help for the second time, in fact a repetition of Psa 109:21.

If Christ is saved by His God, the adversaries will know that God’s hand has brought salvation (Psa 109:27). Every evil power in the universe will know that God has chosen Christ to be His King. This will happen when the realm of peace is established and the Lord Jesus sits on the throne of His glory. No one will be able to deny that the LORD did it.

The adversaries can curse all they want, they are meaningless, empty curses, for they hit no target (Psa 109:28). All Christ cares about is the blessing of His God. They can also attack as often and whenever and wherever they want, but they shall be ashamed, while God’s “servant shall be glad”. For the believer who sees the hand of God in everything, the curse is always turned into blessing and the result is always joy.

For the adversaries, the reverse will be true. They rejoice over the misery of the Afflicted, but they will be “clothed with dishonor” (Psa 109:29). Shame will be poured out on them because of their contempt for the Righteous. They will “cover themselves with their own shame as with a robe”. Inwardly, they will be deeply ashamed of their falsehood and slander which they have spread about Him, Who is called Afflicted and Needy.

Verses 30-31

Promise to Praise God

The psalm ends with the promise of a song of praise. In the assurance of the answer to His prayer, Christ says that He will give thanks abundantly to the LORD with His mouth in a loud voice (Psa 109:30). He “will praise Him” in the midst of many (cf. Psa 22:22b; Heb 2:9-12). He will sing this song of praise when, as the Risen One, He is in the midst of His own, whom He has redeemed through His death.

Giving thanks is always done with the mouth. Therefore, it seems superfluous to mention it. That it is done here anyway is because this psalm begins with a deceitful mouth (Psa 109:2). Through the help of the LORD, this psalm ends with a mouth that praises the LORD in a loud tone.

Christ knows that the LORD will “stand at the right hand of the needy” (Psa 109:31; cf. Psa 109:6). He is that Needy. The LORD stands at His right hand to acquit Him of every charge (Isa 50:9a). Thus He will be saved “from those who judge his soul” (cf. 2Tim 4:16-17; Rom 8:33). In His resurrection, the Lord Jesus was justified, that is, declared righteous, in all that He did. As a result, every charge has not only been declared completely unfounded, but has been exhibited as a false charge.

Now that the suffering has been justly recompensed, the glory can be revealed. That’s what Psalm 110 is about.

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Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Psalms 109". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniël', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.