To quote the original introduction to this Psalm:
“Shiggaion of David, which he sang unto the LORD, concerning the words of Cush the Benjamite.”
The meaning of a ‘shiggaion’ is unclear, but it might just mean ‘a song’ or ‘hymn’ written by David. We can ordinarily assume it means ‘song’ or ‘hymn’ because David says he sang it, and inserts ‘Selah’, which is a musical notation or pause in singing!
He was apparently upset by something said by ‘Cush the Benjamite’. Cush means ‘black’ but specifically refers to the descendants of Ham and the Negro descendants of his family living in Ethiopia. You might ask how his descendants could be Negro, but consider that Adam and his descendants were a dark reddish-mahogany colour and the difference is only slight.
‘Benjamite’ is rooted in ‘ben’, a Hebrew word meaning ‘son of’. (In this case the full meaning of ‘Benjamite’ is problematic).
Cush either brought him an insult and threat, or comfort and help. We are not told. But, whatever he said to David, it caused him to reflect deeply and write this Psalm.
One thing is abundantly clear in this Psalm, as in all others by David – that David trusted God implicitly, even though, at times, he complained about his lot, or feared for his life. This is how we ought to live, through every circumstance, instead of being knocked off course every time we experience a rough time.
O Lord my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me:
Lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver.
O LORD my God, if I have done this; if there be iniquity in my hands;
If I have rewarded evil unto him that was at peace with me; (yea, I have delivered him that without cause is mine enemy:)
Let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yea, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay mine honour in the dust. Selah.
This time, David immediately begins his song with praise and a statement of his faith in God/Jehovah: “in thee do I put my trust”, chacah. With a similar meaning to the New Testament word ‘faith’, it also means that God is a refuge where David can be protected. It is an obvious thing for David then to ask God to save him from his persecutors.
This is a reasonable request to make if David trusted in God to protect him. And it should be a reasonable thing for each one of us to say in circumstances where our safety is being undermined by enemies or circumstances. If God requires us to place our utmost trust in Him, then it behoves Him to meet our trust with protection. Not because we demand it, but because it is part of His merciful love towards those who are righteous.
You will note that David does not ask for mere strength to carry on, but for actual protection. Few Christians have the courage to ask for protection, because they fear He will not answer. Of course, this is an admission of their lack of trust! David had no such lack, for God was his companion in life, even after he sinned. This was because, when he sinned, he repented, returning to a life of righteousness, so vital if we want God to take care of us and hear our prayers. It is true that He takes care of us at all times, because we are elect, but we have a choice – to either soar into the heavens like eagles, or creep along with a limp!
David knows that unless God protects him, the enemy will “tear (his) soul like a lion, rending (it) in pieces”. In other words, if God did not protect us, our enemy of souls, Satan, would tear us apart. Our souls would be fair game to him and he would make sure we were incapacitated and mauled. God IS here to deliver us, yet mostly we hide or we run in fear trying to put our own answers into effect, both reactions being wrong, displaying lack of faith.
Many today have had their souls torn in pieces by Satan and his demons, in the form of mental disturbances, some of which are called neuroses; others may be called psychoses. Both are the result of sin in general, the sin passed down from Adam. But, specifically, neuroses in particular are the natural outcome of our sinful decisions in life. Rather than be comforted by God we sink into a mental oblivion, savouring confusion, fear, anxiety, depression and human reactions. We ‘savour’ them because we do not want to be loosed from them! Instead, we wallow in their signs and symptoms, because it is much easier to give in than to follow God. Unsaved people do it because they know no better, but we have no excuse.
Recognizing that he could be at fault for his demise and attacks from enemies, David says that if “I have done this (because of my own) iniquity” then “let the enemy persecute my soul” (verse 5). To put it bluntly, if we sin against others, who then turn on us in wrath, we do not have a leg to stand on – we deserve all we get! Fortunately for us, the same does not apply to God’s dealings with us; He is longsuffering and will not dash us to pieces the instant we sin. This does not mean He will always suffer our stupidity, as the case of Ananias and Sapphira proves. It shows that God can, and does, punish us if we disrespect His holiness and continue in sin. It is sheer folly to keep sinning, believing that God will keep on allowing it.
David says that if he caused his enemy to attack him, by destroying any peace between them intentionally, then so be it – let the enemy attack! But, he goes on to say that rather than cause enmity, he has gone out of his way to help his enemy, by saving him from his own enemies. So, David was being attacked by someone he had previously helped. This has happened to me! He was being rewarded for his good deeds with enmity and war. This is why David is confident enough to approach God with his plea to be protected… he had done nothing to warrant enmity, and wanted God to intervene. This is also why we, today, should ask God to intervene and protect us against the enemy: such as the state, homosexuals, Muslims, and others, who attack us without true reason. Of course, we must be righteous in God’s eyes before we can plead.
If we had done anything wrong, then, along with David, we would have to concede that they could destroy us, along with any honour we once had. But, when we act in godly manner, they have no right to attack us and God must act against them… which He will do if we are righteous and not sinning ourselves. The fact that our enemies are currently winning against us shows us only one thing – we do not deserve God’s immediate protection. The answer is repentance of Christians on a nationwide scale. David’s request and answers are right up to date! (Verse 5 ends with a musical pause, Selah). Of course, God still protects individuals, on the basis of Christ’s merit.
Arise, O LORD, in thine anger, lift up thyself because of the rage of mine enemies: and awake for me to the judgment that thou hast commanded.
So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about: for their sakes therefore return thou on high.
The LORD shall judge the people: judge me, O LORD, according to my righteousness, and according to mine integrity that is in me.
Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.
So many Christians, desperately trying to appear more holy, look with disdain upon other Christians who do not sit down quietly in the face of enemies and sin. Here, David openly calls on God to “Arise… in thine anger”! He does not pretend to pray for his enemies’ good, or that he has a soft spot for them! No, he utters an imprecatory prayer, asking God to become very angry against his enemies, to remove them. After all, it is his enemies who at fault, not himself. David asks God to judge them to destruction. Note that God has already commanded this destruction – a command made in eternity, as all commands are.
When God does this – destroys enemies – His people will gather about Him with joy. That is why David pleads with Him to show His hand (“return thou on high”), so that the people will be full of praise and assurance.
David acknowledges that God judges His people, and asks God to judge his own life, to see if it is righteous. How many of us dare to ask God to judge us, to see if we are righteous? Really, it ought to be on all our lips, every day! If we are not righteous then we are useless to God, to ourselves, and to all around us.
David then pleads with God to end the wickedness coming from his enemies and those who despise God. ‘Wickedness’, ra’, refers to what is disagreeable, bad, unpleasant, malignant, valueless, causing misery and unhappiness, evil, done by wicked people, the rasha’. Wicked people are those who are guilty before God, hostile towards Him and sinful. In other words, if we let go of our emotionalism, it applies to all who are unsaved. However, iat this time, it is used to describe David’s national enemies. David is calling for the total obliteration of the wicked and their deeds. Why are we so shy to call for the same judgment? It is because most Christians are badly taught and believe things not taught by scripture. They thus bear a false humility, of no value.
Not only does David ask God to remove the wicked, but he also asks Him to “establish the just”. That is, prepare and make sure the position of the righteous. David has asked God to obliterate his enemies and replace them with the just! We are not talking about so-called ‘nominal’ Christians, who rightly perish when enemies come. The plea is for those who know God and obey Him daily. God knows who they are, because He “trieth the hearts and the reins.”
God does not accept us at face value – He searches us thoroughly. It is an error to think that He loves us unconditionally (an Arminian concept). So, why do Christians accept others superficially, without checking out their beliefs and faith? The word ‘trieth’ is used of testing gold. He tries or tests our innermost beings; mere words and claims mean nothing to God. He is only interested in our actual state before Him, not the fakery we might present to our fellow humans! (‘Reins’ refer to emotions and feelings).
My defence is of God, which saveth the upright in heart.
God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day.
If he turn not, he will whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready.
He hath also prepared for him the instruments of death; he ordaineth his arrows against the persecutors.
David makes another strong claim: “My defence is of God”, because He saves those who are “upright in heart”. The ‘upright’, yashar, are correct, right, pleasing to God. They are transparent to all and live righteously. Are YOU righteous? Then you are also correct in what you say and do, because what you say is of Christ, and so entitled to tell others they are wrong! You can do so because God is your personal shield (defence), protecting you from all harm.
We all suffer because of Adam’s fall, and many of us know the ravages of time and illness. We cannot escape simply because we know God. God may protect us from these things, but not necessarily. If someone tells you that the righteous never know failure, illness or disease, then they are foolish and quote charismatic error… or, they have never known these things in their lives – yet! As far as I know I live righteously, with a few failures on the way, but still I add a new medication to my list every year (or so it seems)! I was once physically strong, now I am much weaker. Is this a sign that I am not living righteously? I do not think so.
God judges the righteous (verse 11) continually. He causes us to change our ways daily. He judges us – sees what we do, governs our actions, and prods our consciences. He will also condemn anything we say and do that is not of His plan. Yet, He loves us and we will enter Heaven. But, “God is angry (with the wicked) every day,” Not just now and then, or when they do something particularly wrong. He is ALWAYS angry with the unsaved! Another reason not to be associated closely with the unsaved.
There is a common error, even amongst Christians, that says a person who does good will go to Heaven, even if they are not Christians. Not so! The so-called ‘good’ of the unsaved is treated as dung by God, because it is not His good. How, then, can Christians be close to the unsaved, if God despises them and is always angry with them? We are, at times, called to befriend such people, but only for a purpose, usually to do with speaking the Gospel. Otherwise, we must remain apart.
Still not convinced that God destroys and hates the wicked person? Verse 12 says that if the wicked person does not repent (“turn”), then God will “whet his sword”. This means God will sharpen His weapons to use against the person. The sword is used as a symbol of God’s wrath and judgment, which destroys the wicked. To reinforce what he is saying, David adds that God will bend the bow in readiness, to send an arrow of death through the unrepentant soul. The fact that God has made it ready shows that the wicked person still has time to repent and turn to God. Otherwise God will let His wrath fly, to end the life of the enemy, sending him or her to a future without God and Heaven.
Note that in verse 13, the inevitability of spiritual (and maybe physical) death is absolute. God has already prepared the means of death of the wicked. They are ready to be used. Also note that the destruction of the wicked is “ordained”. How enemies of God hate that word! Yet, God ordains some to glory and some to hell. God ordains it all – His judgment is already known in eternity and will not change. If the enemy repents, it will only be because God ordained it in eternity. If he does not repent, that, too, has been ordained. No man can escape God’s election.
We must remember all this when we consider our modern enemies… and there are many. Our own governments have rebelled against God and His laws. They attack and persecute His people, as do many evil men and women who prefer sin to good. Today, they are literally in pursuit of us, hotly burning the backs of our necks with their foul breath, as dalaq (persecutors) implies. God will take His revenge on them. Satan will not always rule; his time of universal evil will end abruptly and fairly quickly, and those who do his bidding will likewise fall.
Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood.
He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made.
His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his violent dealing shall come down upon his own pate.
I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.
Our enemies work very hard at their godlessness, to do sinful, wicked things. They love to persecute Christians, because Christians highlight their fallen hearts and ways. The enemies are not content just to hit out: they devise ways and means to do us further damage. This has been made very obvious in homosexual laws, unique in the way they cover absolutely every angle, including the punishment of Christians. I have never seen such total technical blocking of criticism or interpretation in a new law. The same enemies “brought forth falsehood”. The only way they can hit out is by using lies and deception. Many wicked movements today are based solely on lies.
The process of lies, deception, and hatred for God and His people, are like a deep pit, dug by enemies to catch us, but instead catches them. They fall into the pit they designed to ruin us! As the saying goes, ‘Give them enough rope and they’ll hang themselves’.
The wicked things these people use to bring us down will turn suddenly on them instead, and destroy them. Their own sins and evil intent, including violence, will rain down upon their own heads (pate). Thus, they will fall by their own hand (just as homosexuals die in large numbers because of their own wicked diseases).
David is assured of God’s help and the destruction of his enemies. So, he praises God in advance, because God is good to those who obey. We, too, must praise Him because He is righteous and fills us with the same. More than that, even if we did not benefit from His love, we must praise Him anyway, for He is “the LORD most high”. Here David uses two names of God – Jehovah and ‘elyowm (most high, or ‘highest’). Even if God crushed us into the dirt, He is still the Most High, Lord of all.
© October 2010
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
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