The little shepherd boy likely thought he was looking at his inheritance as he was standing out there in the field watching those few sheep. He was born into a humble family in the little town of Bethlehem. Furthermore, he was the youngest of eight brothers, each who were stronger and seemed more likely to succeed. Yet all this would change in just one day when the prophet Samuel anointed David as king over Israel. Life changed in a blink of an eye. Not long later he would defeat Goliath. He would be offered the king’s daughter in marriage. He would even be invited to play his harp in king Saul’s court. Surely, David was handed the cards for the best life ever. As we read through the psalms, we recognize that David was in fact blessed and had many things to praise God for. However, there were also many troubles that continually ailed David. That is where this psalm becomes relevant and useful to each of us. I hope each of us are able to recognize the blessings in our lives. Yet, not matter how blessed we are, I venture to say that we each have our fair share of troubles as well. In this psalm, we are going to see David, even in the depth of his troubles, resolve to say that God will be his God.
Rescue me, Lord, from evildoers;
protect me from the violent,
who devise evil plans in their hearts
and stir up war every day.
They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent’s;
the poison of vipers is on their lips.
Keep me safe, Lord, from the hands of the wicked;
protect me from the violent,
who devise ways to trip my feet.
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. (Psa 140:1–5)
This passage is common as many others where we read of David presenting his problem to the Lord. I believe this is evidence for us that God is truly OK if I unload my problems onto Him. Whether in word or I write it in a form of a journal, I believe God can handle us being real, as long as we are respectful and remember who He is. Even Paul encouraged us to present our concern to the lord in every situation (Phil 4:6).
The most common problem for David was evil people around him. Some wanted to kill David, some wanted to take his throne. For nearly the first thirteen years after David was first anointed by Samuel, King Saul often tried to kill him in order to protect the throne for Jonathan. Sometimes, it was within David’s own family where his troubles conceived, such as Absolom attempting to usurp the throne. Other times, David wrote of other hardships that were troubling him such as sickness or grieving losses. In all the blessings, David surely had his share of troubles.
We often have problems of our own; different than David’s for sure, but problematic none-the-less. Some have struggled with irritable co-workers. Many have struggled on some occasions with finances. Marital conflicts are not void from most any marriage. Parents share a common concern in how to raise their children. Health concerns are nearly inevitable at some point in life for every living being. We all have now, or at some point in time, a concern that we can unload onto the Lord; something that seems to want to swallow us and engulf us if the Lord does not act now. What is that concern for you? Take it to the Lord; make it known. Respectfully and boldly say, “God!” Now to the next step—our resolution.
I say to the Lord, “You are my God.”
Hear, Lord, my cry for mercy.
Sovereign Lord, my strong deliverer,
you shield my head in the day of battle. (Psa 140:6–7)
Your resolution could very well begin as David’s did; “I say to the Lord…” In his time of trouble, David resolved to say that God was his God. This may seem irrelevant, but when a person is in a dark time, it matters greatly who or what they put on the throne of their heart. For David, that place was for God alone. David continued to say that God was sovereign. Even when the troubles were mounting up and seemed as waves to succumb David, he knew that God was still in control. David resolved that God was strong, his deliverer, and the shield over his head. For David, God was exactly what he needed in his dark time.
The resolution that you make to God is not for God. God knows who He is. God knows that He is strong. He knows that He is what you need. Your resolution is for you. It is a time when you declare what you know about God. A time to remind yourself who He is and who you need Him to be in your moment of need. It is a time to say, God, this is my situation! But this is what I say: you are exactly what I need right now. And if you are not quite there, that is not to your shame; let’s be honest, those dark times are hard times. If you lack the faith to confidently make a resolution, you could do what the disciples did in Luke 17:5, Lord, I need more faith. It is OK to be there. God can work with the smallest amount of faith in our times of need.
Do not grant the wicked their desires, Lord;
do not let their plans succeed. Those who surround me proudly rear their heads;
may the mischief of their lips engulf them.
May burning coals fall on them;
may they be thrown into the fire,
into miry pits, never to rise.
May slanderers not be established in the land;
may disaster hunt down the violent. (Psa 140:8–11)
David seemed to come right back around to where he started—the same problem. I have always appreciated how real the psalms are. Troubles, prayer, and life often don’t make an easy straight line with some magical formula. But sometimes, we find ourselves back at square 1 saying, God, here I am—still, again, I never left.
I love those stories when we pray for the one with cancer, and not long later hear the word remission. I love praying for a marriage and see it take strides to resolution. I love seeing the father who was struggling financially just to get a promotion after prayer. It joys my heart to read of the woman who had an issue with blood for twelve years until she touched the hem of Jesus’ garment. I love the story of the lepers who cried out to Jesus; just a touch and they were walking into town clean. I rejoice with those stories; I rejoice with those around me who have such stories. But sometimes, all we have at the end of the day is the same petition as yesterday, as last year, sometimes the same cry for a few years. God, I took a number, but here I am still sitting and waiting. Seems like many have cut in line and got that answered prayer before me. Sometimes our prayers come back around and we are praying about the same thing, just like David. That is how this psalm is real. It is simply and downright real.
I know that the Lord secures justice for the poor
and upholds the cause of the needy.
Surely the righteous will praise your name,
and the upright will live in your presence. (Psa 140:12–13)
The I know is a statement of faith; a time to declare by faith the things you know about God. David did not know how his trouble would end, but he knew that God was just. David could not see past the day, but he knew that God took care of the poor and the needy. David knew that God wanted to be glorified even through his trouble. I find myself telling God that I want Him to be glorified in my life. But the tough truth is that God is most glorified when the world sees us travail faithfully through the valleys. This is where the rubber meets the road. This is where it counts. Can we muster just enough faith, that even in the midst of the darkness, we say, God, I know…
I wish this psalm had a positive ending showing David standing over his enemy—vindicated, victorious, justice served. This would be my psalm; God, this is what I want you to do. God, deliver me—God, you are my God. But deep down, what I often mean is, God, if you deliver me, you are my God. But my resolution and prayer should not be conditional on the outcome of my troubles. Perhaps David left the ending out intentionally. For David, his resolve that God would be on the throne, that God would be his strength, wanting God to be glorified, and trusting God to be good and just was not conditional on the outcome. For David, God was God, and no matter what the next day would hold, God was still God. The outcome will not always be what we like. Some times our troubles will end in, well, trouble. That is the sad truth I just don’t like to tell you—but it is true. God wants us to know that He is strong, He is just, He is merciful, and He wants to walk with us though our dark valleys. My resolution and I pray yours as well is, God, I say you are God. Yes, even now in my valley, God, I know…
As a final note, I want to take a look at the superscription for this psalm: for the director of music. A psalm of David. It seems evident that David wrote this psalm. It was his experience; it was his heart poured out to God. But then he hands the parchment over to the director of music. Why? I believe David suspected that the rest of the people had struggles, different than his, but struggles none-the-less. The director of music would take David’s text, put music to it and teach it to the people. Now they too would know; when they were in the darkness of life, they too could resolve to the one who could help. May your resolve be, God, I say you are God…