Praying for Obama?

by Richard on November 19, 2009

This article from USA Today is doing the rounds on Twitter

“Pray for Obama.”

A kind and generous statement.

Or is it?

A crop of bumper stickers and T-shirts emblazoned with that call to prayer for the president have appeared for sale recently online through make-it-yourself outlets such as and And most of the “Pray for Obama” slogans are accompanied by a scripture reference: “Psalm 109:8.”

In the New International Version translations, that verse reads; May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership.

That same Psalm goes on:

May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.

May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes.

May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.

May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children.

May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation.

May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord; may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.

May their sins always remain before the Lord, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }


Mitch 11.20.09 at 5:51 am

So this is a meme. Apparently the bumper sticker was trying to be clever with his political opinions. I’m not sure if the people passing this around are trying to be clever or serious. On the off chance that they are serious, I’ll ask this. If quote Exodus 20:16 (an apt verse for this meme), does that mean that I’m also intending you to think Exodus 22:18? The bumper sticker intends “a short term in office.” I wonder why anyone would see more than is there.

The I think that those who see abject evil in their political opponents based on this silliness are blinded by their mental filters. The metanarrative that they impose on reality in support of the (current) Caesar casts their political oppponents in the role of villains.


Swan 11.20.09 at 5:58 am

Oh, that’s sick :(


Kim 11.20.09 at 8:07 am

That’s bullshit, Mitch. Do your maths. Hadn’t you noticed that Exodus 22:18 is two chapters on from Exodus 20:16? Nor does “may his days be few” refer simply to a short term of office: the psalmist is praying for his enemy’s early death, at the start of a vicious and relentless curse. Psalm 109 is a good example of what have been called “Old Testament unevangelical prayers”. Which adds a bitter-sweet irony to the malice of this bumper-sticker theology.


Richard 11.20.09 at 9:15 am

Actually, I think I’m inclined to agree with Mitch that whoever started this Psalm 109 thing probably didn’t have any evil intent. The habit of proof-texting runs very deep in some circles and I doubt that the context of the verse was even considered. In a way, that makes it worse.

Either way, this is a nasty bit of politicking with the Bible, and no matter how you dress it up it’s unworthy of followers of Jesus.


PamBG 11.21.09 at 12:45 am

This is a bit of a lateral thought, but I’ve been astounded at the hatred in the US for all forms of government. I was sitting in A Coffee Shop (let the reader understand) yesterday waiting for a parent to finish an appointment and I was listening to three prosperous-looking young mothers talking very loudly. The gist of their conversation was basically “Anything that the government is involved with is a conspiracy to do harm to the average person”. I don’t believe this was a particularly political conversation, either; IOW, I didn’t get the impression they would have had a different opinion in a Republican Presidency.

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