A model prayer for victims of abuse — Psalm 109

(Psalm 109:1-5)
1 God of my praise, do not be silent.

2 For wicked and deceitful mouths open against me;
they speak against me with lying tongues.
3 They surround me with hateful words
and attack me without cause.
4 In return for my love they accuse me,
but I continue to pray.
5 They repay me evil for good,
and hatred for my love.

David now prays that God will afflict his abuser:

(Psalm 109:6-9, 11-12, 14-15)
6 Set a wicked person over him;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.
7 When he is judged, let him be found guilty,
and let his prayer be counted as sin.
8 Let his days be few;
let another take over his position.
9 Let his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow….
11 Let a creditor seize all he has;
let strangers plunder what he has worked for.
12 Let no one show him kindness….
14 Let his ancestors’ guilt
be remembered before the LORD,
and do not let his mother’s sin be blotted out.
15 Let their sins always remain before the LORD,
and let Him erase all memory of them from the earth.

David now describes in more detail the abuser’s wicked behaviour, showing why his prayer request is justified:

(Psalm 109:16-20)
16 For he did not think to show kindness,
but pursued the afflicted, poor, and brokenhearted
in order to put them to death.
17 He loved cursing — let it fall on him;
he took no delight in blessing — let it be far from him.
18 He wore cursing like his coat —
let it enter his body like water
and go into his bones like oil.
19 Let it be like a robe he wraps around himself,
like a belt he always wears.
20 Let this be the LORD’s payment to my accusers,
to those who speak evil against me.

David now laments by pouring out his suffering and distress:

(Psalm 109:21-25)
21 But You, Yahweh my Lord,
deal kindly with me because of Your name;
deliver me because of the goodness of Your faithful love.
22 For I am afflicted and needy;
my heart is wounded within me.
23 I fade away like a lengthening shadow;
I am shaken off like a locust.
24 My knees are weak from fasting,
and my body is emaciated.
25 I have become an object of ridicule to my accusers
when they see me, they shake their heads in scorn.

And lastly, David affirms God’s goodness and faithfulness:

(Psalm 109:26-31)
26 Help me, LORD my God;
save me according to Your faithful love
27 so they may know that this is Your hand
and that You, LORD, have done it.
28 Though they curse, You will bless.
When they rise up, they will be put to shame,
but Your servant will rejoice.
29 My accusers will be clothed with disgrace;
they will wear their shame like a cloak.
30 I will fervently thank the LORD with my mouth;
I will praise Him in the presence of many.
31 For He stands at the right hand of the needy
to save him from those who would condemn him.

Psalm 109, Holman Christian Standard Bible
A Davidic psalm.

[September 8, 2022: Editors’ notes:

—For some comments made prior to September 8, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to September 8, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
If you would like to compare the text in the comments made prior to September 8, 2022 that quoted from the post to the post as it is now (September 8, 2022), click here [Internet Archive link] for the most recent Internet Archive copy of the post.]


Further Reading

If you Are a Christian, then You Practice Hatred. Really!

20 thoughts on “A model prayer for victims of abuse — Psalm 109”

  1. Thank you Barbara, These timeless words are a comfort like none other. Heaven and earth may pass away, abusers will pass away, seasons of sorrow will end, but the Word of God will never fail. God works these things out over time. I’ve watched my abusers seem to thrive and prosper while I suffered the consequences of their abuse. Yet, eventually they meet with calamity. Their judgement is coming because God is just.

  2. UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.


    In Jeff’s sermon today he referred to Jeremiah 18:18-23. The passage is astoundingly similar to Psalm 109.

    Then they said, “Come, let us make plots against Jeremiah, for the law shall not perish from the priest, nor counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophet. Come, let us strike him with the tongue, and let us not pay attention to any of his words.”

    Hear me, O LORD,
    and listen to the voice of my adversaries.
    Should good be repaid with evil?
    Yet they have dug a pit for my life.
    Remember how I stood before you
    to speak good for them,
    to turn away your wrath from them.
    Therefore deliver up their children to famine;
    give them over to the power of the sword;
    let their wives become childless and widowed.
    May their men meet death by pestilence,
    their youths be struck down by the sword in battle.
    May a cry be heard from their houses,
    when you bring the plunderer suddenly upon them!
    For they have dug a pit to take me
    and laid snares for my feet.
    Yet you, O LORD, know
    all their plotting to kill me.
    Forgive not their iniquity,
    nor blot out their sin from your sight.
    Let them be overthrown before you;
    deal with them in the time of your anger.

    “forgive not their iniquity” — if you said that in most churches today they would label you a heretic. But Jeremiah was saying this from divine inspiration.

    1. Verse 23 of what I quoted above says —

      Forgive not their iniquity,
      nor blot out their sin from your sight.
      Let them be overthrown before you;
      deal with them in the time of your anger.

      The ESV Study Bible has a note about that verse. The note reads:

      Jeremiah now fully agrees with God’s assessment of and plans for Judah.

      God had assessed Judah as so disobedient and wicked that he was about to let Bablyon take them over.

      God has assessed unrepentant domestic abusers as disobedient and wicked and He wants them put out of the church and He will be sending them to hell.

      Like Jeremiah, we can fully agree with God’s assessment and plans for abusers.

  3. Well now Barb, I have to say that God’s timing is impeccable! Having been served a few days ago for yet another round, this post is refreshing and timely. Remind me why this type of prayer still pertains today. I am oft confused by the NT pastors preaching that we are now to love all our enemies who hate us, and pray for their salvation. I seem to get stuck here a bit..

    Funny, we don’t see Jesus love anyone who is wicked (ie Pharisees or evil workers), nor does He tell any of the wicked that He loves them. Loving our enemies is simply not repaying evil to them or retaliating against them. I am called to be being made into the image of Christ, right? Right. So if I saw Jesus embracing those wicked people in His day, or blowing kisses to them, or telling them how much He loved them and begging them to receive the Gospel, then I would do the same. But, that is not what I see.

    I once heard a pastor say that when God rids the world of an evil, wicked person, that all of Heaven Itself stands, applauds and rejoices at their departure.

  4. This is what I needed today. No matter what happens I can pray this prayer and feel comforted that God is my abusers ultimate judge and he will be tried fairly and justly for what he has done.

  5. Hi
    boy, praying this prayer seems dangerous….anymore comments on justification for praying in this manner?

  6. yes, but hesitant to pray “deliver their children up to famine” as I pray for my children to be protected from their father the abuser…thanks

    1. Listening Ear, Are you saying that somehow you are wiser or more kind than God? That you know better how to deal with wickedness than God does? Iniquity often passes from generation to generation. That is why God got rid of evil by eradicating generations. God is not cruel or unkind and is just in all His ways. I personally desire to be found standing on God’s side when all is said and done. He is always right, just and fair and knows an unspeakable amount more about goodness and justice than I could ever even pretend to know. 🙂

    2. I understand your hesitation there, listening ear. In fact, you may notice that I skipped two verses from 109 when I published it here (see the two elipses in the post). Certainly as a protective mother/parent you probably would not want to pray that the children you bore to the abuser be delivered up to famine, especially if they are still under age. If they are adults and have gone the moral way of the abuser, that might (might, not must) be a different story.

      Inferring how to apply scripture to current situations is to be done with wisdom. The two fundamental guidelines are (1) that our applications and inferences be in accord with the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) or at least not running directly counter to the whole counsel of God. And (2) that we recognise that it’s not always right to make a point by point (isomorphic) application in every detail. Sorry if I’m teaching you what you already know. 🙂

      Just for interest, you might like to read this post: The perspicuity of Scripture, and how some put a grille on the view.

  7. l am praying this prayer against my abuser. l felt justfied to see it is scriptural to want justice . l will continue until the answer comes

    1. Welcome to the blog, shamiso. 🙂 We’re glad you found this post helpful.

      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, I suggest you look at our FAQ page.

  8. What is a good prayer for a wife victim from an abusive husband who kept coming and leaving her with the kids for many years and she’s been patient, hoping for him to change and longing for his love for all those years in the marriage?

    After well many years years the husband then took the kids to give her less money and to hurt her more. And I think God should reverse to give her the two kids back, although the husband caused the teenager to want to be with him, and grabbed the younger child who is to also be with him and mom is left alone.

    And it is hard for her to live alone and heart-broken in the house, this is injustice, God is to give her justice and God should return the boys back to her. And in reverse God should separate or isolate him [the husband] to be alone until he feels how it is to be rejected, ABANDONED and separated and have him be convicted in heart for him to cry out to God for forgiveness and be restored to make it right. God does not want the wife to see husband as her enemy although he has treated her as his enemy.

    1. Hi dear sister, sorry to have taken a little while to respond to your comment.

      Welcome to the blog! 🙂

      We like to encourage new readers to check out our New Users’ Info page as it gives tips for how to guard your safety while commenting on the blog.

      And after reading the New Users’ Info page, you might like to look at our FAQ page.

      You are right: justice would say that the kids should be with the protective parent not the abusive parent. However, I think you might need to take care not to blame God for the way things have turned out, and not to give up on God because you are suffering in this awful situation. And it is awful. You are not to blame, nor is God to blame: the abuser is the one to blame! It is the abuser’s sin, his repeated wicked choices, that have led to this situation.

      God will bring justice in the end.
      For many of us, that will only come about at the Last Judgement when God winds up the cosmos like a scroll and brings in the New Heavens and New Earth. Sometimes a survivor of domestic abuse experiences a measure of justice in this world, but there are no guarantees. God is not a genie in a bottle – we can’t get Him to deliver perfect justice to us in this vale of tears just by ‘praying the right prayer’ which would rub the bottle the right way….

      Having said that, we have a number of posts that I think are pertinent to your question about what is a good prayer for a victim-survivor of abuse to make in a situation like yours. I hope these posts encourage you. You may be surprised by what you read in them: that will be because there is so much false and shallow teaching in the visible church that many professing Christians have never heard these things taught before… but let me assure you that we always back up what say on this blog with scripture.

      I’m going to list the posts here, putting the ones I think might be most helpful at the top of the list. The first two posts are about imprecatory prayer.

      Praying for God’s Justice

      According to Many Pastors, the Saints in Heaven are Sinning

      Love believes all things (Don’t worry, this post does not say not what you might think it says…)

      Abuse and Anger: Is it a Sin to Be Angry Toward Our Abuser?

      If you Are a Christian, then You Practice Hatred. Really!

      Lord, Do Not Forgive Them, For They Know Exactly What They Are Doing

      To pray for our abusers… or not? (we don’t need to pray for the sin that leads to death)

      Putting off and putting on — change as it respectively applies to abusers and victims

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