Psalms 109: Response
In the voice of a girl with an alcoholic father
Be not silent, O God of my praise!
Oh God won’t you speak? Won’t you comfort me with clear words and speech, so unlike the drunken slurs of my father out in the hall? Why won’t he just put the bottle away, and with it, put away all the harsh shouts and door slamming?
4 In return for my love they accuse me,
but I give myself to prayer.[a]
5 So they reward me evil for good,
and hatred for my love.
My mother hates him. My brother is too young to understand. But I loved him. I loved him, even when he came through the door smelling like beer and cigarettes. I loved him, so I would sit and talk with him through his haziness, until my mother pulled me away by my hand and put me to bed. I could still see their shadows from the crack under my door, and the wood wasn’t thick enough to muffle furious arguing and sudden slaps.
The more love I showed him and the more I tried to understand him, that’s how many more nights he came home with a beer glued to his hand. Every drop of goodness I offered him just became hatred that broke this family further apart! I don’t want this reward– this evil stranger and villain who has stolen my father away.
This was difficult for me to write because when you’re a child, you learn to love and be kind. But when you see your mother clearly hate your father, do you follow her example and shun him or do you keep trying to love him, the way you were taught to?
6 Appoint a wicked man against him;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.
7 When he is tried, let him come forth guilty;
let his prayer be counted as sin!
8 May his days be few;
may another take his office!
He is a stranger, God, full of violence and lies. Too many times did he come home with alcohol on his breath, ready to fight anyone who dared say he was wrong. Too many times did I see bruises on my mother, until the day he hit her so hard we had to call 911. I’m ready for him to be taken to court, God. I’m ready for him to be beaten down, the same way he beat this family down. Speak through the jurors! Take years away from his life! Lock him up and have another take his place- I’ll need a new father since the last one gave up his position to drown in his drink.
11 May the creditor seize all that he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his toil!
12 Let there be none to extend kindness to him,
nor any to pity his fatherless children!
13 May his posterity be cut off;
may his name be blotted out in the second generation!
Let that evil stranger be robbed of all he has- he deserves nothing; no, less than nothing! Take away his job, his credibility, his charm and his wit. I pity the next foolish family that decides to take their chances with him, blinded by who he pretends to be. I curse that household- how could you live with such a monster? May your next sons and daughters be subject to the same scorn and derision that is aimed at you. You’re not my father and your name has already been burned off our family tree. In the future, may it be that everyone knows your crimes, so that in the end, your name will vanish from all records just to keep the pages from being dirtied.
I expected this section of the psalm to be difficult to write, but it was fairly easy. I can easily imagine hating my father’s other wife and children, even if they had nothing to do with the crime against me.
21 But you, O God my Lord,
deal on my behalf for your name’s sake;
because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!
He’s behind bars God, but that’s not enough! You know that he left more than a scar on my mother’s forehead and divorce papers to be signed. He left us shattered and betrayed, alone when we thought we were cared for. Punish him, Lord! Punish him, Father! Be the parent he never was, and make him suffer the same way your daughter suffers now. I’m crippled by shame and anger, my stronghold is broken. You are good and I will trust you to show me justice!
25 I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
when they see me, they wag their heads
Do you know what they say about my mother, God? They call her unfaithful– that she abandoned her husband. They call her irresponsible– as if she took away our father. They call her whore– when she tried to remarry, when she tried to make a complete family for us again. They whisper about me, judging me and watching me. They pick apart everything that I do, wagging their heads and tongues that I didn’t turn out to be a lady because I didn’t have a father to raise me.
I don’t know if the culture is different in American communities, but Korean communities are still a bit uncomfortable with the idea of divorce. I was, and still am, subject to a lot of judgment because I don’t have a father in the home. If I misbehave or act impolitely, the immediate rationale is that I’m barbaric because my mom couldn’t raise me properly.
30 With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord;
I will praise him in the midst of the throng.
31 For he stands at the right hand of the needy one,
to save him from those who condemn his soul to death.
I give thanks to you God! Through all of this, you have listened and delivered me. You held me close and spoke softly to me. I praise you because you were good to me, even kinder because you knew my father here on Earth would be lacking. I don’t care what anyone else says; I have the greatest father in you and if you are for me, who could be against me?
Even when I was angry at my father, I could always find peace in God. I was taught not to be jealous of other girls who had fathers because I had nothing to be jealous of.