By Henry Law
Imminent perils surround the Psalmist. Foes environ his path. Means of escape seem utterly to fail. But God can never fail. Prayer flies to His presence and faith rejoices in immovable confidence.
1-4. "Deliver me from my enemies, O my God; defend me from those who rise up against me. Deliver me from the workers of iniquity, and save me from bloody men. For, look, they lie in wait for my soul; the mighty have gathered against me; not for my transgression, nor for my sin, O Lord. They run and prepare themselves without my fault; awake to help me, and behold."
David was imprisoned in his own abode. The door was guarded, and, to appearance, means of extrication could not be found. Instant death extended an unresisted hand. But he sinks not in despair. He forgets not that God is his God, and that the God of all power was near. Conscious of freedom from all fault, he boldly looks up and cries, "Deliver me, O my God, save me, O my Lord."
5-8. "O Lord God Almighty, the God of Israel, rise up to punish hostile nations. Show no mercy to wicked traitors. They come at night, snarling like vicious dogs as they prowl the streets. Listen to the filth that comes from their mouths, the piercing swords that fly from their lips. "Who can hurt us?" they sneer. But Lord, you laugh at them. You scoff at all the hostile nations."
Importunity gives God no rest. It cries as though slumber diverted attention. But He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. In earnest supplication, he names his foes as utterly ignorant of God, and in mind and feeling on a level with the worshipers of stocks and stones. He compares them to the hungry dogs who, when the shades of evening prevail, seek their accustomed haunts around the city, and howl in search of the cast-out refuse. Impiously they conceive the thought that the omniscient God has closed His ears to their malignant threats. But faith adheres to true views of God, and knows the precious truth; "He who sits in the heavens shall laugh, the Lord shall have them in derision."
9-15. "You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue me, for you, O God, are my place of safety. In his unfailing love, my God will come and help me. He will let me look down in triumph on all my enemies. Don't kill them, for my people soon forget such lessons; stagger them with your power, and bring them to their knees, O Lord our shield. Because of the sinful things they say, because of the evil that is on their lips, let them be captured by their pride, their curses, and their lies. Destroy them in your anger! Wipe them out completely! Then the whole world will know that God reigns in Israel. My enemies come out at night, snarling like vicious dogs as they prowl the streets. They scavenge for food but go to sleep unsatisfied."
Mighty may be the foes of God's people, and terrible their strength; but from this fact faith gains the argument that greater far is the omnipotence of God, and therefore fear should be repressed. There is much preciousness in the title, "The God of my mercy." God's covenant secures mercy's outpouring; and the believer knows that mercy shall precede and follow him. Prayer sometimes deprecates the immediate destruction of the foe. It knows that there is much teaching in God's continued exhibition in His people's cause. It therefore supplicates, not that they should be slain, but scattered and exhibited in low estate. The image is again repeated, that as evening-dogs wander around in search of prey, they should be permitted to show their vile desires.
16, 17. "But I will sing of Your power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; for You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble. Unto You, O my strength, will I sing; for God is my defense, and the God of my mercy."
The joy of faith is a flame, which waters cannot quench. It has a life, which never can be slain. It has wings ever ready to soar on high. Paul and Silas, in their dungeon, prayed and sang praises. David, in his abode, closely besieged, professes that songs shall be on his lips. He announces the subject of his thanksgivings; they are the power, the strength, the mercy of his God. The same attributes are our property, our defense, our refuge, our shield. In the darkest days, then, let us sing. When hope seems gone, let us rejoice in the God of our salvation.