Psalm 109

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Luttrell Psalter(1320–1340) showing Psaume 109.

Psalm 109 (Greek numbering, Psalm 108) is a psalm noted for containing some of the most severe curses in the Bible, such as:

Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favour his fatherless children.


Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.

It has traditionally been called the "Judas psalm."

Psalm 109 was used by Thomas Hardy in his novel The Mayor of Casterbridge. Michael Henchard, the protagonist of the novel, is drinking with the choir after practice when he sees his rival, Donald Farfrae, whom he hates. He later persuades the choir to sing Psalm 109. The choir master remarks of this psalm that, "Twasn't made for singing. We chose it once when the gypsy stole the parson's mare, thinking to please him, but parson were quite upset. Whatever Servant David were thinking about when he made a Psalm that nobody can sing without disgracing himself, I can't fathom."

Some verses of the same psalm figure prominently in M. R. James's supernatural story "The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral" (1910), which recounts the guilt-ridden life and dismal death of Archdeacon John Haynes.[1]

Verse 8[edit]

The Apostle Peter quoted verse 8 of Psalm 109 ("Let another take his office") before the apostles elected the replacement for Judas Iscariot in Acts 1:16-26.

In the United States, 109:8 "May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership" has been used by a number of fundamentalist preachers who use the imprecatory psalm as an imprecatory prayer. Pastor Greg Dixon of the Indianapolis Baptist Temple had invoked it,[2] which had been condemned by others.[3]

In 2009, the media has reported more widely on its usage in reference to President Barack Obama,[4] by those such as Pastor Wiley Drake.[5]

In January 2010, a Florida Sheriff's deputy was suspended for highlighting the passage in another deputy's bible and adding the note "The Obama Prayer" beside it.[6]

In January 2012, Kansas Speaker of the House Michael O'Neal sent an email quoting Verse 8 to his Republican colleagues that stated:[7]

At last — I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president! Look it up — it is word for word! Let us all bow our heads and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN? AMEN!!!!!!

On June 10, 2016, Georgia Senator David Perdue quotes the verse, referencing President Obama, at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's Road to Majority conference.[8]

By the late summer of 2017, bumper stickers could be seen asking people to pray for President Trump with the same attribution.[9]

In Judaism[edit]

Psalm 109 is recited on the day of Parshat Zachor.[10]


  1. ^ M. R. James, "The Stalls of Barchester Cathedral," in Collected Ghost Stories, ed. Darryl Jones (Oxford UP, 2011), pp. 165–78.
  2. ^ Warren, Ellen (June 7, 1986). "Fundamentalist preachers pray for death of foes". Spokesman-Review Spokane Chronicle. A5.
  3. ^ Ide, Arthur Frederick (1986). Evangelical Terrorism: Censorship, Falwell, Robertson & the Seamy Side of Christian Fundamentalism. Scholars Books. p. 116. ISBN 978-0-938659-01-3.
  4. ^ Samuelson, Tracey D. (November 16, 2009). "Biblical anti-Obama slogan: Use of Psalm 109:8 funny or sinister?". Christian Science Monitor.
  5. ^ Norman, Tony (November 20, 2009). "Obama-haters are perverting Christianity". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  6. ^ Devin Dwyer (2010-01-04). "109th Psalm 'Obama Prayer': Threat or Free Speech?". ABC News.
  7. ^ Scott Rothschild (2012-01-03). "Statehouse Live: Speaker O'Neal forwards anti-Obama email". Lawrence Journal-World.
  8. ^ "Sen. David Perdue tells faith event: Pray Obama's 'days are few'". UPI. June 10, 2016. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  9. ^
  10. ^ The Artscroll Tehillim. p. 329.

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