“To the chief musician upon Muthlabben.” David, an accomplished musical director, wrote this Psalm for the attention of the chief musician who plays for the ‘virgin voice’ (though the meaning of this is uncertain). Possibly, it might refer to a young man’s voice, or the voice alone without music. David does this to give emphasis to the drama of the words, particularly at verse 16. (The primary meaning is ‘death’, though this seems inappropriate in context).
Though speaking of the sinfulness of mankind, it is really a song of praise that appears to have been written during a time of victory over the enemies. We all go through ‘bad patches’ when things do not go right and we are left bereft of joy and peace. At those times we can become depressed, or we can praise God; we can concentrate only on the circumstances, or we can look up and see God; we can become as worms, or as eagles. Which is it to be? One way will take us downwards into a spiral of anxiety and sin, and the other way will take us closer to God, where we can think and act spiritually, hear His voice, and listen to His instruction to our souls.
We cannot and must not blame God when He does not answer our pleas. Most of the time this happens, is when we are not in a right frame of mind, or when we are ‘going it alone’ trying to construct our own answers, which we hope God will then ‘rubber stamp’. It does not work that way. To hear God we must obey and walk beside Him every day. We must ask Him what to do and wait, even if we want to streak ahead with our own answers. When we walk with God and wait patiently for His answer, it will surpass anything we might invent for ourselves. And when we go through a trial of faith and come out without breaking that faith, we will be stronger and God will be with us.
I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.
When mine enemies are turned back, they shall fall and perish at thy presence.
For thou hast maintained my right and my cause; thou satest in the throne judging right.
Thou hast rebuked the heathen, thou hast destroyed the wicked, thou hast put out their name for ever and ever.
David tells God something few of us today could utter… that he praised God with his whole heart, and he will tell everyone of God’s marvelous works. Every Christians claims to praise God, but very few do! This is because they confine their ‘praises’ to church meetings and public speaking, and do not really believe God’s word the rest of the time, as their actions and words suggest.
As for telling everyone about God’s “marvelous works”… how many Christians have the courage to loudly shout that God created everything, and that He did so in six literal days? Hardly any. In their church halls maybe – but certainly not in public, for fear of being ridiculed. They are too busy trying to appear ‘reasonable’ before their peers, so that they can retain intellectual parity with unbelievers! Another reason is their doubt about six-day creation to begin with, a doubt taught them by evolutionists and Arminians. Am I being judgmental? Not a bit of it – I am only making an accurate observation of the Church in general, or, rather, that part of the supposed ‘Church’ that is filled with fakes.
Are you glad to rejoice in God? Do you sing praise to His name? It does not mean you have to literally sing 24 hours a day. It means that you are ready to praise Him at any time, as you should. God is good, but we fail to see this most times because we look at circumstances and not at God. No matter what the external circumstances, God is BOUND to do us good. Therefore, whatever path He takes us down is the best, even if, at times, we do not like the answer. Remember that the path He gives us is not necessarily for our own benefit alone, but for His own praise and purposes.
As for those who are our enemies, do you know they “perish at (His) presence” and are “turned back”? To ‘turn back’ can sometimes mean to repent, but not in this text. We know this because the phrase is immediately followed by the ‘perishing’ of the enemies. Do not think, though, that God will immediately get rid of our enemies or circumstances just because we are unhappy. No, if we are not in a fit spiritual state, and do not praise God as we ought in all circumstances, He is likely to defer putting them to shame until we learn to obey and praise Him at all times. Many fail at this crossroads!
Everything God does is right. He sits on His Heavenly throne watching every human being on this earth. He sees everything, hears everything, and knows everything. If we are not right, He knows. If we are righteous, He knows. He WILL be at the side of all who are righteous. Many claim righteousness but fail to show it in genuine faith. So they moan and groan because they think God does not hear them. And, in so doing, they miss the whole point of God’s exercise – to bring them closer to Him in obedience.
Whether they continue in their activities or not, our enemies are already rebuked by God and brought to nothing. Look beyond what they say and do and see instead the godly plan working out on this earth, in which all enemies are going to be our footstool. Their current victories are an illusion, for they will be turned to dung by God. This is how the text can say: “thou hast destroyed the wicked…” I know that some will shout: “Don’t be so stupid! Our enemies are all around us and are ready to kill us! God is not answering our pleas!” If that is your response, then you have not understood what the text is saying, nor do you understand how God ‘works’. If you claim righteousness, but fail to have faith, then He will not remove your enemy. I have had many enemies in my life, so know a thing or two about how they operate and how God responds to our pleas!
O thou enemy, destructions are come to a perpetual end: and thou hast destroyed cities; their memorial is perished with them.
But the LORD shall endure for ever: he hath prepared his throne for judgment.
And he shall judge the world in righteousness, he shall minister judgment to the people in uprightness.
Enemy – you are already destroyed and all your works have come to nought! Any fame or infamy they accrued will die with them. Their names will be filth forever (“perpetual end”). On the other hand, God and His Name will last forever, along with those who trust God and who suffered under the enemy. Indeed, God has already predestinated a time and place for the judgment of enemies of God and us. This is how serious His commands are – once made (and they are made in eternity), they are perpetual and cannot be taken back. Thus, the enemies are condemned already.
At the time of the judgment we will be vindicated, for God will judge our cause and the wickedness of our enemies, sending them to hell. As they go, they will see the faces of all they have persecuted or harmed, and will know that we were right after all, and they were very wrong. Their evil against us will be repaid in hell, forever.
The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.
And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.
Sing praises to the LORD, which dwelleth in Zion: declare among the people his doings.
When he maketh inquisition for blood, he remembereth them: he forgetteth not the cry of the humble.
God expects and warns that we will have trouble as believers. There is no sudden magical charm to protect us from enemies at all times. We may have trouble, but we will also, if we are trusting and obedient, know immense faith and joy. This is what David is referring to in verse 9. If all we see in enemies is hurt and woes, then, again, we have missed the point and our faith is at a low ebb. Enemies are our opportunity to prove to God that we love Him and will remain true no matter what.
If we know His Name we will put our trust in Him (verse 10). If we do not trust Him, then, what does that say about our faith? To know His name is more than idly repeating it (like those odd charismatics and others who continually repeat ‘Jesus’ in their songs)! To know His name is to understand and savour every part of His holy Person and character. God will NOT forsake those who seek Him. This does not refer to ‘seekers’ who supposedly try to ‘find God’. This speaks to Christians who actively seek to obey and honour the Lord in all situations. When we thus seek after God and do His bidding, He will honour us with His mercy and grace.
Therefore – sing praises to the Lord (verse 11), Whose abode is Heaven (Zion), and tell everyone about Him. When His people, in all humility, seek after His face and mercy, He will never let them down. They will plead with Him (‘make inquisition’) as he speaks, and He will remember their light. Not that He can ever forget! No, it means He will make them a priority, because they are humble… afflicted, weak, and lowly before God.
Have mercy upon me, O LORD; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death:
That I may shew forth all thy praise in the gates of the daughter of Zion: I will rejoice in thy salvation.
The heathen are sunk down in the pit that they made: in the net which they hid is their own foot taken.
The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands. Higgaion. Selah.
Having said all that, David then asks God to have mercy on Him because of his enemies, who loathe him and want him dead. Even when he is close to being exterminated, David calls upon God’s mercy.
The reason David seeks God’s mercy (apart from the fact that he does not want to die) is that if God shows His mercy and helps him, David can then shout the praises of his God to all who belong to God’s people. David would rejoice in being helped.
At a time when I was pressed hard by my enemies and they gleefully destroyed my career, at first I was upset. But, then I sought God, that He would NOT allow me to sink and be ruined. The ruination was not my immediate concern – but if God did not help, then my enemies would think they were right about what they saw to be a fake God and fake Christianity. The thought of my enemies gloating over my demise drove me onwards to trust in God and ask for His mercy. And for the past five years He has done so! My enemies have been thwarted and my God has shown Himself to be greater. Do not let enemies of you or God get away with their gloating. Praise God instead and expect His mercy.
As for the heathen, those who do not believe and want to destroy us, they are sinking into the pit they built to catch us! Yet, in their desire to get rid of us, they do not realize they are sinking fast. The net they hid to catch us has fallen upon themselves.
God is known by His dealings and thoughts, and unbelievers can see what kind of God He is. That is why our enemies shriek in hatred and pretend to be victorious. They KNOW they are wrong and KNOW their fate is sealed. So, in their death-throes they hurl abuse and try to dismember us. We see it in so many fake movements, whether it is evolution, Islam, homosexuality, drugs, or whatever.
At this point in his psalm, David instructs the musicians (or singers – it is not clear) to play louder and triumphantly (higgaion), followed by a short break in the singing, for maximum effect (selah). This shows us the excitement David has when he speaks these words. Are YOU excited by God’s actions? Or, do you pretend and sit back in the face of amazing grace and mercy?
The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
For the needy shall not alway be forgotten: the expectation of the poor shall not perish for ever.
Arise, O LORD; let not man prevail: let the heathen be judged in thy sight.
Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. Selah.
After the triumphant music (or singing) and a pause in the singing, the singers then praise God loudly… the wicked, and all peoples who refuse to acknowledge God, shall end up in hell. Yes, we CAN and MUST proclaim this message to unbelievers.
The needy (those attacked by enemies and circumstances) will not be forgotten by our gracious Lord. Those who need Him will not suffer the ignominy of enemies, but will be protected by God, if they obey and trust with humility. “Let not man prevail”! shouts David and the massed choir in the Temple. Judge the enemies, says David to God. And let them experience real fear of God, so that they will realize they are just men and have no power in God’s sight. Then, a pause in the singing.
Let us, today, pray that enemies and worthless leaders of countries will be put to flight and scared witless by God! Do not support them with your prayers. Instead, condemn what they do and ask God to bring them down, so that peace and truth may prevail. Do not agree? Then read the Psalm again!!
© October 2010
Published on www.christiandoctrine.com
Bible Theology Ministries - PO Box 415, Swansea, SA5 8YH
Please 'Make a Donation' to support the work of Bible Theology Ministries