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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Take Care in Praying

Not only should we be careful about what we pray for--lest we get it--but also about how we pray for it. 

Recently, people have been spreading a poster urging us to pray for President Obama, with the citation Psalm 109:8 under it.

While I would like to see Mr. Obama removed from office in November, I am just a bit queasy about using Psalm 109:8 as the text.

Psalm 109:8b--"Let another man take his place"--conflated with Psalm 69:25 is a text that Simon Peter specifically applied to Judas Iscariot:

And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said...Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was to guide them that took Jesus. For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling down headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out, And it was known to all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. For it is written in the book of Psalms,
Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishopric let another take.
Wherefore of these men which have companies with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias...And they gave forth their lots: and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:15-26).

While I count myself with those who would really like to see Obama's days in office lessened and someone else in the Oval Office, I'm yet another one who might feel just a little bit queasy about applying Psalm 109:8 to Obama. Since the whole of Psalm 109:8 (not the portion of the verse which Peter conflated with another) says "Let his days be few and another take his place", some might take it as a call for--God forbid--assassination or something other than our usual, Constitutional means of removing a President. Further, Psalm 109 is an imprecatory Psalm full of curses against those who speak against the Lord's Anointed (David, and his much greater descendant Jesus) with a lying tongue. It's pretty strong stuff, and while I accept that there are those who deserve all the curses it lists, I'd like to think that Mr. Obama is not quite in that category. This may be why there are a lot of folks who feel queasy about such a slogan.
Further, I also accept the charge Paul lays on us in I Timothy 2:1-2 to pray for all men, especially those in authority ("that we may lead quiet and peaceable lives"). My prayer is always for their receiving wisdom to govern properly and that they may enjoy the grace of repentance unto life (what the old Scots Presbyterian divines called conversion).

And, since I mentioned the old Scots divines, I say a hearty "Amen" to their acceptance of Augustine's Just War Theory and even their teaching that rebellion against lawless governments is acceptable. However, peace accompanied with justice and liberty is always better.

This being said, I'm guessing that the folks at People's Cube and elsewhere pushing "Pray for Obama, Ps. 109:8", mean it in the sense that they want him beaten this November and out come January 20.  If so, I'm fine with it.  But, for the reasons given above, I wonder if there might not be a better verse somewhere else.

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