TUESDAY, MARCH 2O
David knew God’s faithfulness when he was under attack – prophetic of Jesus’ time of torment also
Context note: The first eight verses of the psalm (a psalm of David) express confidence in God and praise for His deliverance “You have set my feet in a spacious place”. But it doesn’t feel like that. Now the support completely expected under the covenant seems delayed; help is needed now.
9 Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief.
The psalmist knows that under the covenant he can expect the Lord to act on his behalf, but the situation is increasingly desperate. He cannot wait. He cries out for the mercy of the Lord.
10 My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.
This is a description of someone drained emotionally and physically, which is the effect of the ’emotional murder’ of hatred.
11 Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbours and an object of dread to my closest friends – those who see me on the street flee from me.
12 I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery.
The victim of the hatred and slander experiences rejection and contempt, even from former friends, v.11, and hopelessness, v.12, is joined by terror.
13 For I hear many whispering, “Terror on every side!” They conspire against me and plot to take my life.
14 But I trust in you, Lord; I say, “You are my God.”
In this dire situation, the psalmist moves – with the agility of a swordsman – from defending his feelings to offensive faith. He turns the tables on his oppressors (which may be human or spiritual) with prayer declarations.
15 My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.
He pledges trust and gives God the sovereignty and the outcome: “My times are in Your hands”. Only then does he petition God to give him favour, to save him and vindicate him.
16 Let your face shine on your servant; save me in Your unfailing love.
Seeking God’s blessing in the familiar words of Numbers 6:25. The appeal to God to save in His unfailing love is an appeal to Him to act in accordance with the covenant.
17 Let me not be put to shame, Lord, for I have cried out to you; but let the wicked be put to shame and be silent in the realm of the dead.
18 Let their lying lips be silenced, for with pride and contempt they speak arrogantly against the righteous.
The outcome David wants more than any other is for an end to what is most damaging: the slander.
The threats, and even murderous threats, of enemies are not unfamiliar to us. Perhaps the hardest part of such an ordeal is the mental stress – and fear. The enemy is always active trying to put anxious thoughts and to turn our focus from faith to fear. He often uses malicious gossip and slander – getting vulnerable people to do his work for him.
The psalmist, David in this case, expresses this well. However, set alongside the “terror on every side” experience is the statement “I trust in You, Lord… my times are in your hands”.
We may not be able to avoid fear – it is a human emotion and some kinds of fear are necessary, and even healthy. The lesson here is that whatever fears and anxieties the enemy is trying to bind us with, we can come through to a place in that fear and anxiety where we declare, over and against it, “I trust in You, Lord… My times are in your hands.”
Whatever we face, Jesus has faced it already – and won through.
For reflection, or as a discussion starter
Could you draw a statement of faith from the second half of this psalm? What would be your basis for speaking it out in faith, and confidently?
Also published on Medium.