The psalmist is asking God to shut down Israel’s enemies. They don’t get the warm greetings after their treatment of His people. They get no ‘good day’ greetings.
Israel has not had an easy time in its existence. There have been times of peace but they are scattered among the years of turmoil. From the time of her beginning she has had to struggle. You could say she was born in captivity as Egypt was the place her people flourished in number and became a nation. God brought them out of slavery to establish them as His own people, but even then, they had challenges to face. MANY of their own making.
The psalmist seems to be recalling the unpleasant times today. He is thankful to the Lord for ending them but he is still hurt by their history. He is calling on God to make his enemies, or those who persecuted Israel, pay for their behavior.
There is restraint along with a request for recompense here. He doesn’t call out to God to rain fire and brimstone down on Israel’s persecutors. Instead, he asks God to make them unfruitful and for them to fade away into obscurity. H does NOT want God to bless them, nor does he want anyone to even ask Him to do so.
While I was thinking about this I realized that what the psalmist requested has pretty much happened. The Pharaohs of Egypt, the Babylonian empire, the Persian empire, and the Roman empire have all fallen and been relegated to history. These are just a few of the empires that no longer exist. There are many nations that have also followed this pattern of attacking Israel and then later going into obscurity. They did not endure while Israel did. God used many nations and empires to do a work in His people. They each had a purpose in crafting His story, including being His hand of correction on Israel. In several places though we saw God judging those nations that He used to shape Israel, because they ‘enjoyed the task’ and took it too far.
Our psalmist is focusing on the ones he feels have ‘gone too far’ in how they treated his ancestors and maybe even himself. In Old Testament times I can see this attitude prevailing but what about today? What about forgiveness? Jesus forgave even those who nailed Him to the cross AS IT WAS HAPPENING! He didn’t wait for time to go by so His feelings could heal. He forgave them in the moment and NEVER took it back. This is the example He set for us.
We are told to pray for those who despitefully use us, as well as pray for our enemies. So, can we withhold God’s blessing or our gracious greeting from those who have wronged us? I don’t think we have to go out of our way to greet them but neither do I believe we can ask God to put a heavy hand upon them. I believe we can ask Him to do whatever it takes to bring someone to Him. This prayer can go for those you love as well as those who have been unkind or adversarial to you. In short, I don’t think this is a psalm I will be singing.
Father God, thank You that You DO see every time I am wronged. Thank You that YOU take up my case when the need arises. You also give me opportunities to practice forgiveness. I will NEVER be as good at it as Jesus is but I’m trying. Remove any bitterness I have in my heart towards anyone. Let me sow love instead. Teach me to be more like Jesus every day. THANK YOU for forgiveness!