A Christian Perspective on Psalm 109:8 and Imprecatory Prayers

There’s been a lot of online chatter lately about bumper stickers connecting Psalm 109:8 to President Barrack Obama. Psalm 109:8 reads:

Let his days be few; and let another take his office. (Psalm 109:8, KJV)

As a post over on examiner.com points out, what’s more alarming than calling for President Obama’s swift removal from office is what follows in Psalm 109:9:

Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. (Psalm 109:9, KJV)

Perhaps the makers of these bumper stickers are attempting to coyly express dislike of the President’s policies and leadership by taking a verse from the Bible out of its original context. Presumably they’re just looking forward to the psychological relief they imagine will accompany President Obama’s eventual replacement. However, if those that slap this on their bumpers include not only verse 8, but 9-20 as well, this starts to fall into imprecatory prayer territory.

An imprecatory prayer is a plea for God to come and take care of an enemy. They’re rare in the Bible and almost always defer to God’s wisdom and judgment in the matter. The destruction of an enemy is a very serious thing for which to pray. Outright hatred in the name of Christ should give us pause—after all, Jesus rather famously told us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

While Psalm 108 happens to be an excellent example of an imprecatory prayer, it’s also a vivid picture of a man at the end of his rope with no other options before him. As bad as you might think the United States has become, it’s nowhere near the situation that David speaks of in Psalm 109.

Thankfully, from what I’ve seen googling around, it seems that few people are vociferously defending the bumper sticker’s statement; and let’s be honest—the bumper sticker by itself isn’t going to change anyone’s mind. At best it might spark a thoughtful exchange between two people (although I have my doubts).

Whenever topics like this come up, we have an excellent opportunity to evaluate why and for whom we pray. When we pray for those who persecute us, we pray that they might also find the grace and mercy we’ve received through Christ. The hope that God gives us is not that all who oppose us would be laid to waste, but that all who oppose us would also find forgiveness and life.

8 Responses to “A Christian Perspective on Psalm 109:8 and Imprecatory Prayers”

  • Rev. Darryl Jones Sr. says:

    First of all, to make such a request to God as a Christian places great doubt about the character and authentic nature of the individual’s faith. Because a person claims to be a Christian doesn’t make him/her a true Christian. Second, God does have a way a taking care of enemies. Those who designed, printed, distributed and advertise the bumper sticker may be the real enemies of God.

  • Andy says:

    Here’s some NT perspective on the matter:

    I Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV)
    I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

    Romans 13: 1-7 (NIV)
    Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

    These were written during Nero’s reign.

  • Dan Hoffman says:

    As a non-christian, I want to compliment your article as it is one of the first I’ve seen from the “christian” community which presents a rational and straight forward viewpoint concerning this “irrational”, dangerous and heinous action. It helps me believe that not all “christians” are “brain-dead”.

  • KATE says:

    if the governing authority tries to forcibly cause one to sin, do
    we still give honor and respect to that authority? if the governing
    authority along with the governing body use the taxes that are “due”
    them – that we christians so willingly pay – to commit murder under
    the name of abortion do we still give honor and respect?
    honor and respect are not due.
    maybe, since christians that do have a voice and don’t use it or
    are not allowed to use it publicly, have not spoken up-maybe God
    hears the cries of the millions of unborn babies that will fill Heaven
    to not allow this massacre to continue.
    honor and respect? who honored and respected the lives of these
    children? is our government honoring and respecting our nation?

  • Quinn K. says:


  • Bill Walker says:

    Dear Gospel.com
    Thank you for a Christian and responsible response to the misuse of Scripture and the intent of those guilty of such Biblical inmaturity.
    The Word of God covers time from its beginning through eternity, and in it, people who like all of us have fallen short of God’s will by disobediance to his Word, thus we have murderers,adulterers, prostitutes,whore mongers, war mongers fornicaters, friends who betray, and those who betray friends, etc.etc.etc.
    God’s word says that sin is sin, no big sin, no little sin, and unless we confess our our sin, turn from our wicked ways,and receive Christ Jesus as Lord of our lives the very conditions of this “Psalm 109” can befall you, even worse “Eternal Damnation” will be yours. Believe This.
    Yours in Christ,

  • Terry says:

    I hate what Obama and the Democrats have done to this country. Humans like to be clever; it boosts their egos. There are two ways (or more) to view the bumper sticker and idea behind it. (1) sarcasm, cleverness; (2) hatred. We are to think on whatsoever things are lovely, pure, of good report, etc. It is not Christian to think the intent behind the sticker is hatred, ill will, etc. but the flesh easily tends in this direction. Also, note that non-Christians can put this sticker on their car as well as Christians. Note also that death is not necessarily envisioned; he could be impeached for example. Finally, people can wrest scriptures to their destruction; this scripture simply says let him not finish out his term. The next verse is not cited and is not automatically part of the sticker’s message.

  • Kristen says:

    Lighten up people, it is merely humor. I think people who take this seriously are people who do not have a sense of humor. I do wish his term could end early and we’d have a better God fearing president, but I think no way is this bumper sticker meant to be serious. Sheeeesh, laugh a little.