As we begin, I want to advise you that this Psalm is a repetition, almost word for word, of the last part of Psalm 40. This theme was so important to David, he included it in two of his Psalms.
VS. 1 Hurry Up, God!
When we try to rush God’s Timing it is because we feel an urgency to have things resolved—However, God resolves things in His time.
Some years ago my family traveled to a family reunion. There not being enough room in either car for all of us to go we traveled in two different cars. My brothers and I rode together and followed mom and dad. We left early in the morning for a journey of approximately four hours. A large amount of coffee attributed to our alertness and before long—our need for a rest stop. Without cell phones or C.B. radios there was no way to communicate to our parents that we planned to stop. We zoomed ahead and rushed into the rest stop and back out and spent the next hour attempting to catch up with our parents—and we never saw them on the road. We rushed like mad to catch them—never realizing that they were really still behind us. We got to Fresno and had to call information to get directions to the house. This was made even more difficult because Uncle Jake’s first name wasn’t really Jake. I managed to remember this and we got the information and arrived at the house nearly an hour ahead of our parents.
Sometimes, when we try to rush God, our timing puts us in a similar mess. We speed on and on, while God is taking His time and doing it right. As we speed, we feel a sense of urgency that is based on human stress and emotion rather than faith in Almighty God.
David experienced some of the most stressful times that any human being ever experienced. First, he had professional problems. God had given him a calling (to be king) but not the placement. David continued to wait on God to place him as King. His patience seems to be something like that of Job because he waited for God to make him king of Israel in fact, not just in calling. If this wasn’t stressful enough, he was working for the king.
Now, I want you to take a minute and think how ironic (okay, how almost funny it is) that David was brought in to play his harp in an attempt to quiet Saul’s depression, guilt, moodiness, etc. What was the source of Saul’s stress? Wasn’t it the fact that David had faced the giant Goliath and obtained fame and glory for his act? Wasn’t it the fact that he knew that God was going to give the kingdom to someone else? He may or may not have realized it was David that God planned to replace him, but David was turning out to be a pretty good candidate. The people were already singing David’s praises in a song about Saul slaying thousands but David had slain ten thousands. So, it was kind of stupid to place the source of irritation (David) in the path of the irritated king. It would be like me coming home from a hard day and my daughter bringing me a glass of iced tea and telling me to put my feet up and listen to some music and then putting on some loud rap music (if you can truly classify rap as music)…
Saul’s reaction to this placement was to try to kill David. Not once, but twice. So David’s professional problems were larger than anything we have ever faced. We may have worked for some jerks in our lives, but I don’t think any of us ever had a boss who tried to kill us. Can you imagine the worker’s compensation claim?
David also had family problems. We just said that his boss was trying to kill him, right? Do you remember that one of the rewards for David’s victory over Goliath was that he married the king’s daughter? That’s right! David had a serious in-law problem. He was working in the family business and his father-in-law hated him. Eventually David had to flee from his father-in-law\boss, running for his life.
So David began to pray that God would HURRY UP!!!!
There are other Bible characters that experienced the stress of waiting for God’s timing. Abram and Sarai waited for years for the coming of Isaac. They even tried to solve the problem themselves and Ishmael came along. Joseph probably thought he was due to be released quickly after the butler returned to Pharaoh, but the butler forgot Joseph and another two years went by before he was brought out of prison.
VS. 2 -3 A Desire to See our Enemies Confounded
Since this is a Psalm of David—we should look at least two incidents in which God answered this prayer and confounded his enemy, Saul.
In I Samuel 23 Saul pursues David, who runs from place to place… desperate to avoid conflict with King Saul. Saul breaks off his pursuit of David because he hears the Philistines are attacking. This is almost an answer to David’s prayer. Saul was turned back, but not truly shamed, unless he felt guilty over chasing David when he was supposed to be protecting the people he was governing.
In I Samuel 24 David spared Saul’s life. David cut off a piece of Saul’s robe while Saul rested in a cave. Saul is shamed when David confronts him and tells him that he could have taken his life. Saul admits that David is more righteous than he himself is.
In I Samuel 26, once again, Saul is chasing after David. During the night, David creeps into Saul’s camp and takes Saul’s water bottle and his spear. He confronts the king with his typical I could have killed you, I mean you no harm speech—Saul confesses that He has sinned against David and done him wrong.
Our Desire to see our enemies confounded should really be like this—to see them confronted with their sin in the face of our right actions and to bring to them a recognition of their sin. But don’t miss out on something that happened in those two instances—David confronted his enemy, King Saul with a right attitude and made an effort to resolve the issue between them. Don’t expect God to show your enemy his sin if you are unwilling to confront your enemy, in kindness, and deal with the wrong that they are doing to you. When David had Saul in his power he didn’t assassinate him—but he also didn’t ignore the fact that Saul was pursuing him without cause. David chose to respond to Saul’s persecution in a right way. He chose to demonstrate boldly that he was not a threat to Saul, that he was not really Saul’s enemy.
Let’s take a moment to look at the new Testament. Peter writes:
13 Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats]; do not be frightened.” 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
I Peter 3:13-16
First, I want to take a minute to deal with the question Peter asks. Let me turn it around and paraphrase it to make it clear. “If you are demonstrating a genuine desire to do the right thing then who would want to hurt you?” The answer to this is of course, only an evil person.
We must be prepared to demonstrate our willingness and eagerness to do the right thing. Do you demonstrate your eagerness to have peace with people?
Here’s a rather silly example—but I think it really pictures what Peter is trying to say. Let’s suppose that you parents come home one evening and your son or daughter leap to assist you with everything you do. They offer to take the trash out, to wash the dishes, to clean the kitchen, to vacuum the living room, or to clean out the garage. Wouldn’t you as parents be delighted by such behavior? How would you respond?
Kid: Hey, dad, can I take the trash out, please?
Dad: No way! You’re grounded two weeks for even asking.
Kid: But I just want to help around the house, please may I take the trash out, sir?
Dad: Are you sassing me? Where’s my belt?
Okay, that’s silly. It is absurd. But it clearly demonstrates what Peter is saying in a backhanded way. Good people will respond to your good behavior and gracious attitude.
David not only prayed and asked God to shame his enemies, but he was willing to do the right thing towards those he was having problems with. Praying for deliverance is not enough if you aren’t willing to do the right thing. Don’t pray for God to help you lose weight if you aren’t willing to eat differently and exercise more! Don’t pray for God to help you with your temper if you aren’t going to chose to behave in a better way.
When I read in Proverbs that a soft answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1) I am reminded that it FIRST turns away my own personal wrath. In other words, if I chose a soft (gentle) answer it helps me avoid falling into the temptation to lose control.
David prayed for God to grant him deliverance, but he was willing to deal with his problems in an honorable manner that demonstrated that he was not a threat to Saul or even a challenge to Saul’s authority. He showed respect to Saul even when he must’ve hated Saul.
Vs. 4 The Joy of Seeking God
WE get busy at times seeking God’s blessing rather than seeking God’s presence. This was the problem of the prodigal son. He wanted the priviliges of being the father’s son without the incumbent responsibilities. On the other hand, the older brother thought that by his focus on the responsibilities rather than relationship he had earned the priviliges of being the father’s son. Both were wrong. But both demonstrate the need to seek relationship with God.
Paul tells us in the New Testament that we are to rejoice in the LORD –he emphasizes that our joy in is the Lord not the Problem. We are not to praise the Lord because we discover we have a terrible health condition but we are to praise the Lord because our faith tells us that He will be present with us as we deal with it. We are not to praise the Lord because the bills get bigger and bigger, but because we know that God will lead us through. We are not to praise God for the problems we experience with our children, we are to praise Him for His strength and wisdom in the midst of the struggle. We are to recognize that God’s leadership, His strength, and His wisdom all come from our relationship with God.
VS 5. A recognition of our need
This is the concept behind Jesus declaration in the Sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit” In other words.. blessed are those who don’t seem to be really spiritual or have much spiritual strength. Until we recognize our need of God we cannot pray for His presence and his deliverance in a right attitude. That recognition comes from the recognition of our need. David declared that God was the deliverer. He recognized that he could not deliver himself.
There is a film out right now based on a True Story about a rock climber who fell and became pinned in a crevasse—After many hours of being trapped he pulled out his knife and severed his arm—without doing so he would not have survived.. However, most people are incapable of caring for themselves.. A doctor does not remove his own appendix.
In my life—when I have sought to deliver myself from conflict and problems… usually I make those conflicts worse. When I recognize that GOD is my deliverer and let him to the delivering, I can stay out of His way and see His great deliverance take place.