The newest far-right craze is an anti-Obama slogan that is making its way onto t-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, and even teddy bears: “Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8,” which reads, “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.” The meme is also taking off on Twitter, with conservatives calling it “hilarious.” Commentators have noted that it’s unclear whether the intent is to hope for an end to Obama’s time in office — or an end to his life. But a look at the lines in the rest of the psalm hint at the latter:
Let his days be few; and let another take his office.
Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.
Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.
Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labor.
Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favor his fatherless children.
Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.
Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the LORD; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out.
Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth.
Diana Butler Bass at Beliefnet explains that Psalm 109 is one of the “imprecatory” prayers, “a lament in the form of petition to destroy one’s enemies.” While perhaps intended to be a joke, she notes that the psalm actually “entreats God to destroy the president”:
It is the personal prayer of an individual, someone who has been dealt an injustice by another–and usually more powerful–person. The words of Psalm 109 are those of deep agony, the longings of a victim for retribution and justice. This psalm is considered one of the most difficult of all the psalms–full of violent images of vengeance and death.
Quite a few of the “Pray for Obama” items are being sold at CafePress.com, although many of them have been taken off of the site (here’s a cached version of some of them). Cafe Press representative Margene H. told ThinkProgress that while the site took down some of the “Pray for Obama” items today, it is now in the process of reinstating them:
We initially pulled the Psalm 109:8 content from our products today because broader media dialog indicated that these designs potentially suggested violence towards the president. Based on current public discourse and further review of the actual content, we have determined that it is fair political commentary and we are in the process of reinstating this merchandise. As with all of our content, these designs will continue to be reviewed and if at any time their meaning is construed as advocating violence we will revisit our decision.
On Tuesday, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow spoke with “Patience With God” author Frank Schaeffer, who said that while the psalm was “frightening” in a secular context, it’s even “more threatening” in a biblical context.