I wasn’t looking for what I found when I came across Psalm 109:17-18…in fact, I was skimming over the words, ready to move on to a new Scriptural destination. Then it happened: the Holy Spirit had two verses jump out at me.
First, a brief overall context: Psalm 109 is considered one of the harshest “imprecatory psalms” written in the collected Psalms (or “psalter”). An “imprecatory psalm” is a category defined by the author’s prayer or request for punishment or Divine vengeance towards an enemy, evildoer, or other recipient. Similar “words of imprecation” are found throughout Old Testament Scripture, as well, and are prayed by kings and prophets, as well as those in everyday walks of life. (https:// Bible.org) Several translations (Lexham English, Holman Christian Standard, The Message, others) view verses 17-18 simply as segments of an ongoing petition to God that focuses on punishment and retribution.
As I read these two verses, however, I discovered what appears to be a principle that is relevant and applicable in our walk as New Covenant believers and partners with God – and not “imprecatory” at all.
The New American Standard translates Psalm 109:17-18 this way: “He also loved cursing, so it came to him; and he did not delight in blessing, so it was far from him; but he clothed himself with cursing as with his garment, and it entered into his body like water and like oil into his bones.”
Now this verse may result in a shrugged shoulder or so what? as you read it. I got a wow! “He did not delight in blessing, so it was far from him…”
Do I delight in blessing? Do you? Not just as receivers, but as conduits, instruments of implementing Divine purpose. We know that within us is the Spirit of the living God…reaching out, wanting to touch and transform and redeem. But has a decision been made to delight in blessing? I think that’s a good question to ponder, because we walk in a sowing-and-reaping kingdom.
The online resource dictionary.reference.com defines the word “blessing” as “a special favor, mercy or benefit; a favor or gift bestowed by God; the invoking of God’s favor upon a person; praise, devotion, worship.” www.merriam-webster.com states, “approval that allows or helps you to do something; help and approval from God; approval, encouragement…”
The first New Testament verse that came to my mind is a familiar passage from James: “But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.” (James 3:8-12, NASB)
Perhaps the reason we are not to mix “both blessing and cursing” has its roots in verses 17-18 of Psalm 109: “He also loved cursing, so it came to him…it entered into his body like water and like oil into his bones…”
Two kinds of “body” immediately come to my mind as I reflect on this: singular, the earthly tent which houses me, myself (and, of course, His Spirit)…and corporate, the “body” that is a gathering of believers, my church home, your church home.
I’m picturing Jesus. It’s hot and He’s walking, and He’s sweating. Because He has delighted in blessing, He is sweating blessing out of His very body, as the rivulets run down his face and arms. I’m picturing both a corporate “us” and a singular “me” – it’s hot in this world, and we are also walking and sweating… but it’s worth asking – what is the nature of what comes out of our pores?
Let’s take a “definition break” because this sounds a little confusing. “Cursing” is defined as “An appeal or prayer for evil or misfortune to befall someone or something; a source or cause of evil; a scourge” (www.thefreedictionary.com) “the expression of a wish that misfortune, evil, doom, etc., befall a person or group; a profane oath;” (dictionary.reference.com) or, “To utter a wish of evil against one; to imprecate evil upon; to call for mischief or injury to fall upon; to injure; to subject to evil; to vex, harass or torment with great calamities; affirm or deny with imprecations of divine vengeance’ (website, the King James Bible Page, av1611.com/kjhbp/kjv-
Psalm 109:18 describes that a lifestyle of walking in curses (“clothing himself”) “is like water ” to his body and like “oil into his bones.” I looked up the interaction between oil and bones, and to my surprise I discovered that many researchers equate a regular ingestion of olive oil with the strengthening of bones.
Why is this significant? Because water is, obviously, life-giving and life-sustaining. Oil, then, is a strengthener of bones….so that a cursing-mindset carries with it a self- perpetuating life cycle. It becomes the water of life and strengthener of bones to those who walk in it.
That just might invoke pause for reflection.
Though the “two masters” teaching of Jesus was aimed towards contrasting allegiance to God with allegiance to wealth, it also seems appropriate in this arena – “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.” (Matt. 6:24, NASB)
Salt water cannot produce fresh. We who know Him do not belong to any river or body of salt water…our Headwater is Christ, from Whom flow rivers of living water meant to bring and revive life wherever it touches. Living water meant to bring blessing. I encourage you to embrace it…
As Peter wrote, “Finally, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead…” (I Peter 3:8-9, NASB)