Monday, November 23, 2009

Pray for Obama - Psalm 109:8

By now, some of you have probably seen the promotion, “Pray for Obama” with a reference to Psalm 109:8, which reads: “May his days be few; may another seize his position.”

Rather cute, if you’re unhappy with Obama.

But no verse in the Psalms can ever be read out of its context: verse 9 reads, “May his children be orphans and his wife a widow.”

Verse 10 goes even further: “May his children wander about and beg; may they be driven out of the ruins they inhabit.”

And if you really want to read some exciting stuff, it goes on:

“May the creditor seize all that he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil.
May there be no one to do him a kindness, nor anyone to pity his orphaned children.”

In other words, this is a prayer for Obama to die and for his children to suffer misery.

There’s nothing funny here.

To use this as a “prayer” is to slander everything Jesus gives us when he instructs us in prayer – e.g. “when you pray, pray like THIS” and then gives us “The LORD's Prayer” or the “Our Father” as it is called in the Roman tradition.

To take the Scriptures and to use them for such a mean-spirited political campaign calls anyone who cares about Scripture and prayer to raise the alarm.

It’s one thing to express political disdain for the President – this is a proud American tradition; but it’s another thing to pray for his death, that his children be orphaned and left penniless on the streets.

Yes, this in the Bible.

Everything is.

But Jesus reminds us that just because it’s there, doesn’t mean it’s of God. God, with infinite wisdom and trust, sees to it that everything is there in the story, and it’s up to us to read it carefully. With Jesus in our hearts, to choose a course of life that is filled with love and kindness, and even when we’re politically frustrated, to yet pray for one another, including our “enemies” – because God sees to it that needed rain falls on everyone (Matthew 5:43-48).

If you should see this “pray for Obama” campaign in an email, please don’t pass it on, and please don’t laugh, and please pray for the one who sent it to you.

We do well to heed Peter’s counsel (1 Peter 2:16): “Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Fear God. Honor the emperor,” and the guidance of 1 Timothy 2: “I urge that supplications and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.”

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