The Cross Cancels the Curse

I start reading Psalm 109 and, at first, it has a messianic ring to it. Messianic like Psalm 22 is messianic, the opening verses (v. 1-5) portraying a suffering servant.

Wicked and deceitful mouths are speaking lies against the songwriter, David. He is encircled with words of hate and attacked without cause. In return for the love he has shown others, he receives only their accusations. His reward for his goodness and love is evil and hatred. Hmmm . . . sounds a bit familiar.

But then . . . not!

Learned a new way to describe a psalm this morning. Imprecatory. While Psalm 22 is a messianic psalm, Psalm 109 is an imprecatory psalm.

Imprecatory. From the word imprecation. Meaning a spoken curse. Familiar with a benediction? An imprecatory psalm is a malediction. Far from a “may the Lord bless you” serene melody, this is a “may God curse you” rage anthem. And, among imprecatory psalms, apparently Psalm 109 is a doozy!

For the next ten verses, David asks the “God of my praise” to let his enemies have it. One guy in particular. And on this one guy, David calls on the Lord to unload upon him.

Appoint a wicked man against him; let an accuser stand at his right hand. When he is tried, let him come forth guilty . . . May his days be few . . . May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow! . . . May the creditor seize all that he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil! Let there be none to extend kindness to him . . . May his posterity be cut off; may his name be blotted out in the second generation! May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD, and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out! Let them be before the LORD continually, that He may cut off the memory of them from the earth!

(Psalm 109:6-15 ESV)

Ouch! I wouldn’t wish all that on my worst enemy. Oh wait . . . this guy is David’s worst enemy. But even if he deserves it — and I’m guessing he did — it’s startling to read what the Spirit moves David to conclude as the reasonable wages for his sin. As the just retribution for his rebellion.

But as I’m reading this, the Spirit brings these words to mind:

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

(Luke 23:34a ESV)

Now that’s messianic. That’s the voice of the Messiah.

Oh, praise God for those words! Intercession in place of imprecation.

They silence the sentencing worthy of my sin. They nail to the cross the curse I deserve. They erase the just judgment due those who, at one time, aligned themselves against God’s Holy Servant.

The finished work of the cross cancels the curse. What glorious truth!

Such amazing grace!

To God be the glory!

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