Summary: It is vitally important that in our dark times, we cast our cares on God. As Peter says, He cares for you.
The shadow of betrayal
The psalm is a maskil. Ultimately, we don’t know what a maskil is. The best idea we have is that the word maskil is associated with the word "wise" or "skilled." In the times of the ancient Hebrews, wisdom could apply to anything. You could cook wisely (some might still say that is the case). You could play a harp wisely. It meant was that you were good at your craft. Since David gave the first two books of psalms to the priests to be used in worship, I tend to think that this subtitle was added by the priests. It was an instruction for a priest that wanted to assign this psalm to a singer or harpist. They had to be good.
This psalm is focused inward. David is pleading for relief. He is so distressed that it is affecting him physically. He is restless. Some translations say he is moaning. His distress is so deep it affects him like grief. I picture a man so upset that he is pacing and if not weeping, groaning meaningless noises.
• Has someone died? No.
• Has his nation suffered disaster? No.
• Has a family member been harmed? No.
He has an enemy, and his enemy has done him deep damage. The damage he has done is not physical. His enemy has done something that can inflict far more damage than any violence:
• He has spoken hatefully
• He has looked with anger
The degree to which this enemy’s anger and contempt has been expressed has done something we would never expect. It has made David afraid.
• Saul has killed his thousands, David his ten thousands
• The man who killed a hundred men to pay his bride price
• The boy who was man enough to face down Goliath
David is afraid. He is terrified. He is afraid for his life. David’s life has been in danger many times, but this time, the fear is so deep that it has led him to desire something no warrior like David would easily admit. He would like to run away.
How many of us have not felt like David?
• If I was only a bird, I would fly away from this person and never come back
• I would go somewhere he would never find me
• I would fly out to the loneliest place I could reach, someplace I could hide and be safe
I would flee far away and stay in the desert
Think about that. The desert is not a place to be trifled with. I remember being in the desert with a guy who was taking me to homes to talk to some of the people there. I guess we did not go far. I did not pay attention.
• There are no landmarks
• There is no water
• There is no road
• There is only sun and sand
When we were done, I asked him where I was going. He said, "over there." It was high noon, so I didn’t even know which direction he was pointing. I didn’t know how many dunes I would cross before I saw a building I recognized.
He knew where he was, but I had no idea how far "over there" was or if I could find my way home. I wasn’t about to take chances asked him to take me.
Of course, David knew some of the tricks and how to find shelter, having run from Saul for many years. So he is saying, I would rather face the desolation of the wilderness and live off the land than face this enemy.
David is crying out for help
Notice the allusion to Babel. "Confound their speech." When God confounded the speech of the people at Babel, they had no choice but to abandon their plans and disband. David sees not just a person, but a conspiracy. Look at the images:
• Prowling the walls
• Threats and lies in the streets
This conspiracy is hiding in the alleys and lurking in the courtyards. It walks softly and whispers. It is behind every corner with a knife or a club.
Who is this enemy?
Now David reveals it. His revelation tells us why he is upset.
• If it was just an open opponent hurling insults, he could take it
• If it was just some foreigner with a weapon ... no problem
But verses 13 and 14 show it is not just fear that is driving deeply into his heart, it is the pain of betrayal.
But it is you, a man like myself,
my companion, my close friend,
with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
as we walked with the throng at the house of God.