By Henry Law
The voice of prayer again is heard amid the multitude of afflictions. But deliverance shows a smiling face. Foes will fall prostrate and the righteous shall rejoice.
1-2. "Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer; preserve my life from fear of the enemy. Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity."
The Psalmist is here seen as a child of sorrows cradled in distress. His daily portion is affliction's bread. He holds a cup filled to the very brim with trouble. He cannot stir but amid snares and hostile threats. On every side the enemy shows a front of menace. But he has his refuge. It is near. It is secure. It is the mercy-seat to which prayer brings him near. Who will dread trouble when such remedies are at hand! Foes may have cruel malice in their hearts, but all their malice will prove blessings in disguise when they convey on wings of prayer to God's immediate presence. Thus cruel distress is often made the means of boundless good. So it was with David. In his worst straits he could look up and cry, 'Preserve my life, O God, from fear of the enemy.' He knew that the wicked laid their secret plots, and that the workers of iniquity were planning to rise up against him. But no fears disturbed his peace when he could appeal to God to spread His sheltering wings around him, and to hide him in His pavilion, from the machinations of insurgents.
3-6. Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words; that they may shoot in secret at the perfect; suddenly they shoot at him, and fear not. They encourage themselves in an evil matter; they commune of laying snares privily; they say, Who shall see them? As they plot their crimes, they say, "We have devised the perfect plan!" Yes, the human heart and mind are cunning.
In warfare the sword is a mighty weapon. It inflicts deadly wounds and drives back the attacking foe. So, also, arrows do destructive work. The Psalmist felt these weapons were arrayed against him in the malice of attacking words. Sharp as the sword were their tongues, piercing as the arrows were their words; secret was the ambush, and suddenly they rushed out to fight. They hold malicious counsels. They flatter themselves that darkness would conceal their plots. In disregard of the all-seeing Eye they vainly question, 'Who shall see us?' They use, also, every endeavor to malign. They strive to discover some evil which they may bring to light, and use in slander against the objects of their hate. Who can fathom the evil of their thoughts, the evil of their hearts? Truly this evil is a deep well.
7-8. "But God shall shoot at them with an arrow; suddenly shall they be wounded. So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves; all that see them shall flee away."
If our hope sprang only from this world, our hands might hang down in despair. If help came only from the sons of men, helpless indeed our state would be. How soon would we be trampled down by overwhelming hosts; how soon would Satan send forth his legions to sweep us into uttermost destruction.
But God is our hope, our help, our strength; therefore unfailing victory must be on our side. He will bend His bow, and His arrows never fail to reach their mark, and to discomfit the insulting hosts. In a moment, when they least expect defeat, like Sennacherib's hosts, they shall lie as dead men. Like Pharaoh's army, they shall be overwhelmed and no more seen. God does not need to call in new implements of ruin; their own tongues shall put forth destructive power. Self-wounded, self-ruined, self-destroyed, they shall exhibit a spectacle so fearful that frightened spectators shall dread their very sight.
9-10. "And all men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God; for they shall wisely consider His doing. The righteous shall be glad in the Lord, and shall trust in Him; and all the upright in heart shall glory."
Awe shall be widely spread when such requital is beheld. The hand of the Lord shall be conspicuous, and shall be reverently acknowledged. Intelligence shall perceive that God's mind has been the directing cause, and God's power accomplished the overthrow. Happy thankfulness shall pervade the hearts of the righteous. They shall rejoice not so much in the misery of the wicked and at their total overthrow, as that God's work shall be thus manifestly seen, that praises should adore Him, and all glory be ascribed to Him.