Using the Bible to make a joke can be a tricky business.
On Friday at the Road to Majority Conference, sponsored by the Faith and Freedom Coalition in Washington, D.C., Republican Senator David Perdue of Georgia suggested his audience pray for Barack Obama using Psalm 109:8 –
May his days be few;
may another seize his position.
Of course to make the joke even better, Mr. Perdue used the King James Version translation which reads:
Let his days be few;
and let another take his office.
Regardless of the translation, the Republican Senator from Georgia has a curious prayer life and even stranger biblical interpretation. I wonder if he has actually read Psalm 109.
Psalm 109 is a prayer “Of David,” in which David prays about his enemies. He asks God to vindicate him against those who have attacked him. David complains that those who oppose him, speak
against me with lying tongues.
3 They beset me with words of hate,
and attack me without cause.
4 In return for my love they accuse me,
even while I make prayer for them.
5 So they reward me evil for good,
and hatred for my love.
David goes on to quote the prayer these ”wicked and deceitful mouths” are praying against him. Be clear here – the following prayer is not David’s prayer. This is the prayer David reports is being used by those who are opposed to David. David’s enemies pray:
6 ‘Appoint a wicked man against him (ie. David);
let an accuser stand on his (David’s) right.
7 When he (David) is tried, let him (David) be found guilty;
let his (David’s) prayer be counted as sin.
Then comes the prayer the wicked enemies of David used against David which Mr. Perdue wants the faithful to use against Barack Obama:
8 May his (David’s/Obama’s) days be few;
may another seize his (David’s/Obama’s) position.
The real joke here is that the prayer Mr. Perdue quotes and urges his listeners to pray against President Obama is not a prayer the Bible endorses or in any way promotes. This is a bit like urging Americans to use a prayer prayed by warriors of ISIL to pray against the President of the US. David never prayed the prayer of Psalm 109:8. David quotes this prayer that was used against him by his “accusers,” who David says,
speak evil against my life. (Psalm 109:20)
The “bad guy” in this prayer is not the one against whom the prayer is used, but the ones who pray that “his days may be few.” The whole point of David’s prayer in Psalm 109 is that David is asking God that those who use this prayer may
be put to shame… 29 May my accusers be clothed with dishonour;
may they be wrapped in their own shame as in a mantle. (Psalm 109:28b,29)
When we use a bible verse, it is important to consider the context in which the verse appears.
The shame attacked in Psalm 109 is the shame of those who would use the prayer of Psalm 109:8 to attack their duly appointed leader.
If Mr. Perdue really wants to use the Bible as a guide to pray for President Obama, perhaps he might choose I Timothy 2:1,2 which urges believers,
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone, 2for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.
If Sen. Perdue is looking for a biblical attitude towards those in positions of leadership in the government, perhaps he might meditate for a time on Romans 13 in which Paul encourages his audience to,
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God.2whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement. 3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. … 4for it is God’s servant for your good. … 5Therefore one must be subject, not only because of wrath but also because of conscience. 6For the same reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, busy with this very thing. 7Pay to all what is due to them—taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honour to whom honour is due. (Romans 13:1-7)
It is a curious world when, at the same conference in which Mr. Perdue urged that the prayer of the “wicked” be used against Obama, organizer Ralph Reed, also urged the gathering to embrace Donald Trump as their nominee because,
Unlike a lot of our friends on the other side, we’re not looking for a political messiah, because we already have a messiah. We understand that perfection is not the measure that should be applied. … Because in all of recorded history there has only been one perfect person, and he wasn’t a candidate, and he wasn’t a political figure. His name was Jesus Christ.
The world is turning in strange gyrations.
Anyone claiming to”have a messiah” named Jesus, needs to be clear that, before anything else, this messiah calls all people to live in love. Jesus showed the way of kindness, compassion, and concern for the well-being of all people. Jesus never asked anyone to use a prayer of the “wicked” against God’s anointed.