The Psalms

Psalm 109 The Judgment Of False Accusers.

When God is silent the wicked rise up (vv. 1-2a). No society can long survive when it loses God’s word. The same holds true for the individual. There are two competing speeches in the world-God’s and the “lying tongue.” (v. 2b) The next worst thing is that God refuses to act. “Do not keep silent, O God! Do not hold Your peace, and do not be still, O God!” (Ps. 83:1) A better and more accurate translation of “lying tongue” would be “false witness,” for the two are not the same thing. Rahab lied to the king of Jericho, and in so doing she bore true witness concerning the spies who she protected and sent away in peace (Josh. 2:1-21; 6:17-25; Heb. 11:31; Js. 2:25). More is involved than simply not telling the truth. A false witness is one who practices deceit. It is the same word (mirmah), used to describe a false balance (Prov. 11:1; 20:23).

Their speech cannot be trusted as a standard by which one can make a judgment because they are themselves corrupt (Cf. Mt. 26:60; Mk. 14:56). A false witness is more than a liar, a false witness is motivated by hatred, seeking another’s hurt “without cause” which they know that their false witness will engender (v. 3 Cf. Ps. 35:7; 69:4; Jn. 15:25). It is a perverse and deceitful abuse of the provision within the law itself to protect the innocent. Their speech is accusatory (v. 6). They are seeking to have a person punished for a crime they did not commit (v. 4a). It is in cases like this that sometimes the only recourse is to pray (v. 4b). They rewarded him with evil for the good he did, hate instead of the love he showed them (v. 5 Cf. Ps. 35:12; 38:20; Pr. 17:13). It would seem that these false witnesses were once his friends and close acquaintances who had turned against him, making it all the more bitter.

Judgment will ultimately come for the guilty (v. 7). “One who turns his ear away from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.” (Prov. 28:9) This is why this psalm was so fittingly applied to Judas (v. 8; Jn. 17:12; Acts 1:20; Ps. 69:25). A false accuser will suffer the fate of the innocent and helpless they sought to destroy (v. 9 Cf. Ex. 22:24). This is the life of a vagabond, an aimless hopeless wanderer (v. 10). Strangers benefit from all his labour, and his fatherless children are shown no pity (vv. 11-12). All false witnesses are covenantally cursed (v. 13). It affects the generations (v. 14 Cf. Nu. 14:18), that the very memory of them might be cut off (v. 15). “Because he did not remember to show mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, that he might even slay the broken in heart. As he loved cursing, so let it come to him; as he did not delight in blessing, so let it be far from him.” (vv. 16-17)

Bearing false witness is calling down a curse on the innocent. Those who do so will suffer the very judgment they sought to have inflicted on the innocent (vv. 18-19 Cf. Pr. 14:14; Mt. 7:2). This vengeance is from the LORD, in answer to the prayer of the innocent (vv. 1, 20). Those poor in spirit know they need mercy (vv. 21-24, 26). But mercy is found with God alone. The wicked sit in judgment (v. 25 Cf. Ps. 22:7-8; Mt. 27:39; Mk. 15:29). However, the LORD’s mercy shown will be testimony to and against them (vv. 26, 28). Where the wicked falsely accuse and curse, the LORD blesses, to their own shame and disgrace (vv. 28-29 Cf. Job 8:22; Ps. 35:26). This is the LORD’s doing (v. 27 Cf. Job. 37:7). The LORD is merciful to “the broken in heart.” (v. 16 Cf. Ps. 34:18) This caused the psalmist to praise the LORD (v. 30 Cf. Ps. 35:17-18). None can condemn those whom God has shown mercy (v. 31 Cf. Ps. 16:8; Rom. 8:1).

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