Psalm 109: The Prayer No One Wants

Although many psalms are cherished, the same cannot be said about Psalm 109. Perhaps because it contains the longest and most detailed prayer against an enemy in the Psalter, it is frequently marginalised. Indeed, beyond its application to Judas in the book of Acts, its reception is extremely limited, and Christian lectionaries do their best to discourage its use. However, this paper argues that a combination of form critical and newer canonical and intertextual approaches to the Psalter open up possibilities for its use where it can function as a ‘circuit breaker’ which prevents cycles of violence from building. None of this makes it an easy psalm to pray, and those drawing on it need to understand how it works in the Psalter. But with attention to these elements, it emerges as a prayer which could be significant for addressing patterns that contribute to cycles of violence.