Sitting in staff meeting the other day, as we were praying through the prayer request cards from the Sunday service, we became increasingly aware of the overwhelming suffering in our church. How fitting to spend a summer in the Psalms as we hear story after story of people dealing with difficult circumstances, health concerns, and strife. Many of these concerns can cause us to want to flee, as David was advised to do, but like David, we must understand that we can never flee the Lord’s presence and our confidence must remain in Him.
To break this Psalm down, the first three verses express lament at the council of advisors and their bad advice (v. 1), the pending attack from enemies (v. 2), and the helplessness of the righteous with the destruction of society. The following verses (v. 4–7) express confidence in the Lord as the basis for the declaration of the psalmist in verse 1, “I have taken refuge in the Lord.”
In verses 1–3, David had already decided to take refuge in the Lord; thus, we see the result of the decision rather than the decision itself. Because of this, when his advisor witnessed his circumstances and told him to flee, David expressed an abhorrence at their suggestion because he placed more confidence in the Lord’s protection than his ability to flee or fight. Because David’s enemies are making ready for battle he declares the helplessness he feels inside, except for the truth he holds dear.
In verses 4–7, we see that good theology overcomes the woes of life. In this second stanza, David states what he knows to be true; God sees all men and judges their hearts and actions, and He hates the violence of the wicked more than David ever could. For this reason, David prays for God’s justice on their mutual enemies. This passage makes clear that those preparing to battle David are doing so because of righteousness, “[shooting] in the darkness at the one who is upright in heart.” (v. 2) David identifies that they attack him not for personal reason, but for theological reasons—they seek to attack the Lord through David. Thus, when David prays, it is not for personal reasons only, but because the unrighteous are attempting to suppress righteousness. David appeals to the Lord’s character, His righteousness, as he asks the Lord to snare their mutual enemies as they are attempting to snare him.
This passage pulls no punches when it speaks of God’s attitude toward unrighteousness. He passionately hates it. God does not “hate” the individuals; instead, He “hates” what the individuals do and the effect of their actions—He “hates” that they are reaping destruction on their own lives. This is because God wants to bless people; His desire is that people pursue righteousness, actions consistent with His character.
Jesus said in Matthew 5 to “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Although injustice can cause us to want to react swiftly, let us stop and pray for those who commit such acts that they repent and cease heaping destruction upon themselves. One day, when they stand before the Judgment Seat, the opportunity to repent will be forever lost. Take advantage of the time you have to intervene by prayer and persuasion that because of you, one more person may stand before God’s throne in the righteousness of Christ.
By: Tyler Short