God of the dawn and the day, I wait before You now to receive from Your hand.
Read PSALM 140
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
1 Rescue me, Lord, from evildoers;
protect me from the violent,
2 who devise evil plans in their hearts
and stir up war every day.
3 They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s;
the poison of vipers is on their lips.[b]
4 Keep me safe, Lord, from the hands of the wicked;
protect me from the violent,
who devise ways to trip my feet.
5 The arrogant have hidden a snare for me;
they have spread out the cords of their net
and have set traps for me along my path.
6 I say to the Lord, “You are my God.”
Hear, Lord, my cry for mercy.
7 Sovereign Lord, my strong deliverer,
you shield my head in the day of battle.
8 Do not grant the wicked their desires, Lord;
do not let their plans succeed.
9 Those who surround me proudly rear their heads;
may the mischief of their lips engulf them.
10 May burning coals fall on them;
may they be thrown into the fire,
into miry pits, never to rise.
11 May slanderers not be established in the land;
may disaster hunt down the violent.
12 I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor
and upholds the cause of the needy.
13 Surely the righteous will praise your name,
and the upright will live in your presence.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence … God … knows everything.’1
There’s much we don’t know about this psalm – we know nothing of the circumstances that lie behind it, for example – but the psalmist is confident of the things he knows, even if they’re in tension with one another. He knows the reality of evil and its impact on his life. He unmasks his opponents as violent, arrogant, deceitful liars who are out to get him. He doesn’t harbor a romantic view of human nature. They are evildoers and wicked through and through. On the other hand, he also knows that his God is a particular God (v 6) whom he describes as a sovereign, saving shield who surrounds his life. Furthermore, he knows that this God ‘secures justice for the poor’ and needy (v 12) and the sinned-against, among whom he includes himself. This God is definitely not on the side of powerful, immoral abusers, but a God of justice.
The third thing he knows is that this isn’t just a statement of orthodoxy but an incentive to prayer. He knows that God will come to the rescue – a double-sided experience, in which the righteous are delivered and the wicked judged. He is unabashed in asking God to pursue the latter and mete out punishment on them in a way that we may find embarrassing. When Jesus was in a similar position, he didn’t cry out for vengeance but rather prayed for his Father to forgive them. Should we reject the psalmist’s approach in favor of that of Jesus? As his disciples – yes, but without pretending that wickedness is anything but evil. However, what both the psalmist and the Lord have in common is that they both leave justice in God’s hands,2 for him and him alone to administer. And he will. There’s so much we don’t know – but that’s worth knowing and acting on, for sure.
Have you been sinned against? If so, how have you reacted? Have you been able to put the issue into the hands of your sovereign, saving and shielding God?
Forgive me Lord for failing to pray as I should as there seem to be so many things deflecting me from praying. Help me as I seek to become a prayer warrior.
1 1 John 3:19,20 2 cf Rom 12:17–21
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