By Henry Law
David, stung by unjust reproach, appeals to God. He prays and foresees future judgment. The end is praise. When slanders fly around may we be similarly calm.
1, 2. "O Lord my God, I put my trust in You; save me from all those who persecute me, and deliver me; lest he tear my soul like a lion, rending it in pieces, while there is none to deliver."
David had felt the persecuting rage of man. In peril of life he often fled. Trembling, he had cried, "There is but a step between me and death." The enemy had pursued, athirst for blood, mad as the wildest beast of prey, with fangs extended to rend his limbs to atoms.
To this day malicious fury raves in sinful hearts. If no restraining barriers had interposed, all people of God would long since have been swept from earth. But when cruelty reviles, they know their stronghold. Their God is their high fortress of defense. They enter and are safe.
3, 4, 5. "O Lord my God, if I have done this; if there is iniquity in my hands; if I have rewarded evil to him who was at peace with me; (yes, I have delivered him who without cause is my enemy;) let the enemy persecute my soul, and take it; yes, let him tread down my life upon the earth, and lay my honor in the dust."
Pure conscience gives enlargement at the throne of grace. He can lift up the head who knows that every charge is false. David was pure of guilt towards Saul. He never sought to hurl him from his throne. He planned no traitorous plots; he sowed no seeds of insurrection. Far otherwise. When in the providence of God his cruel foe was helpless in his hands; when one blow would have crushed persecution, he would not strike. He cut off the mantle and bore off the spear to prove his power to slay--his generosity to spare. Thus conscious of innocence, he appeals to God.
Here Jesus shows Himself to faith's adoring eye. His walk on earth was perfect purity and perfect love. His one work was to scatter blessings and do good. But enmity could not be softened. Hate causeless was hate furious. He meekly testifies, "They hated Me without a cause; they laid to my charge things that I knew not of." The servant must not expect an easier lot. The more clearly he reflects his Lord, the more bitterly will hatred rage, and viler will be falsehood's accusation. Innocence does not stop man's mouth, but it gives bold access to the ears of God!
6, 7. "Arise, O Lord, in Your anger; lift Yourself up because of the rage of my enemies; and awake for me to the judgment that You have commanded. So shall the congregation of the people compass You about; for their sakes therefore return on high."
Troubles last long that grace may more abound. The greater anguish kindles increased prayer. Importunity becomes more urgent. Heaven is assailed with cries that God would no longer seem indifferent, but awake, arise, and put on anger as a mantle. He is reminded of the known decree that judgment shall avenge His people and destroy rebellious foes. In all desires of execution of just wrath, faith's eye regards God's glory. When the Lord's wrathful arm is seen, His people will encircle Him with shouts of praise. Their sanctified joy will burn more brightly. Therefore, for their sake God is implored to show Himself on His high throne of power.
These words cast light on this world's final scene. Judgment is indeed arranged. Irreversible decree demands it. Our Jesus will appear as Judge. A high tribunal will be His glorious seat. His ransomed flock will all be gathered round Him. He comes to be glorified in His saints and admired in all those who believe. Where, then, will persecutors stand? Oh! that the Spirit would arrest their course and bring them as lowly suppliants to the saving cross; for soon the day of mercy will be fled.
8. "The Lord shall judge the people; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and according to my integrity that is in me."
True religion is strictly personal. It looks inward; it diligently probes the heart. It deals rigidly with motives and with ways; it prays God to observe and judge. So David, conscious of righteous dealing towards Saul, prays that favor may regard him. This plea is quite consistent with deep sense of sin and consciousness of all shortcomings towards God. Low in deepest guilt before omniscient holiness, we may be free of injury towards man. May this sweet consciousness enable us to lift up the head, and boldly seek God's aid!
9. "Oh, let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just; for the righteous God tries the hearts and reins."
Sights and sounds of evil are anguish to a pious heart. They pain him, because they are abhorrent to his new nature. He turns from them as images of Satan; he loathes them as rebellion against God. Hence he burns with desire that they may be repressed. Hence he wearies heaven with cries that God would drive iniquity into outer darkness. No faithful prayer ascends in vain. Doubtless in answer to such cries much evil is restrained. God's servants are maintained, and grace is kept as a little candle in the world's deep gloom.
But evil will not die until our Lord returns. Then shall the wickedness of the wicked reach its end. Faith waits expectantly for the blissful reign; it visits in anticipating thought the new heavens and the new earth. Throughout heaven there is no form of sin; its hideous features are forever gone; the reign of righteousness has come. Each heart is holy; each look reflects God's image; every sound is pure. All is transcendent happiness, for all is holiness. No evil will pollute the glorious scene. God's discerning eye will then have parted light from darkness. Outside is sin and all sin's slaves; within is the Lamb's bride, all glorious in her robes of white!
10. "My defense is of God, who saves the upright in heart."
How safe are those whom God's shield covers! No weapon wounds them. Satan's darts fall harmless at their feet. They live through all assaults, and they shall live forever. But their own arm brings no defense. They are "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time." Their character is as clear as their protection is secure. Through grace their hearts are wholly changed. Uprightness is their one delight; uprightness is their constant path.
11, 12, 13. "God judges the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day. If he turns not, He will whet His sword; He has bent His bow, and made it ready. He has also prepared for him the instruments of death; He ordains His arrows against the persecutors."
Pledges are added to pledges that the righteous have God to vindicate their cause. Faith treasures up these glad assurances, and gains strength and joy. There is no day nor hour in which God's anger against sin does not burn. But there is respite. Forbearance checks the final blow. The wicked yet may turn; he may abjure his vile rebellion. He may break Satan's yoke; he may seek mercy. In penitence and shame he may flee humbly to the Savior's cross. But if he will not turn, there is no hope. Destruction is then most sure. The Spirit gives a faithful picture of God ready to destroy. He stands in all the might of omnipotence. His arm uplifts His glittering sword; the edge is sharpened for resistless work. Other weapons are prepared. He holds His bow bent for execution. All instruments are ready, and all barbed with death. His arrows are prepared for action. The persecutors are the target to be pierced. Who can hear this and fail to flee for shelter to the wounds of Jesus!
14. "Behold, he travails with iniquity, and has conceived mischief, and brought forth falsehood."
The faithful Word reveals the evil man. His inner man is all iniquity; it is the offspring which he bears. As deadly waters flow from noxious founts; as poison berries grow on toxic trees; so sin in all shapes flows from him. Plots of mischief are conceived; plans of falsehood are nurtured. They come to birth, they start to life, to fill the world with misery, and to blacken earth with crime. They are of their father the devil, and all their words and works savor of hellish origin.
15, 16. "He made a pit, and dug it, and has 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 head."
The unsaved labor hard to work their own destruction. Their feet are caught in their own net. Into their own pits they fall. They sharpen weapons mainly to wound themselves. Their arrows shot upwards fall back on their own heads. Goliath's sword severs his head. Haman hangs on his own gibbet. Adonibezek laments, "As I have done to others, so God has requited me." Dogs lick the blood of Jezebel in the place where she had slain Naboth. Eliphaz records a common experience, "I have seen that those who plough iniquity and sow wickedness reap the same." The man who rends the oak may be destroyed by its fall.
17. "I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness; and will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high."
The end comes on. It is all joy to the redeemed. They sing; they sing aloud; they sing forever. The praises of the Lord are their incessant and unwearied song. They laud Him according to His righteousness.
At present they give praises from their inmost souls; but oh, how dull their hearts! how weak their voice! how poor, how meager, their most lively efforts! Their harps are tuneless; their best melody lacks life. They turn with shame from their best attempts. They do not reach the very outskirts of their theme. But when they reach their home, their songs are commensurate with Jehovah's glorious name. They praise the Lord according to His righteousness. May this delight be ever ours!