“Sovereign Lord, my strong deliverer, you shield my head in the day of battle. Do not grant the wicked their desires, Lord; do not let their plans succeed.”
Psalm 140: 7-8
As a young man, king to be, and King, David faced many challenges, perils and indeed enemies. He dealt with the lion and bear in protecting his father’s sheep, he faced Goliath on behalf of his people and as King he faced many enemies from within and without. It is probable though, that this Psalm was written at a time when he was persecuted and hunted by King Saul when he was in exile and peril. A Psalm that was then often utilized when in the office of King.
David prays for protection from verbal, bitter assaults that malign him and his name. At the time it was thought that the poison of a snake came through its tongue hence the vivid description in verse 3. This depiction brings to mind the damaging power of words that James warns about in his letter (3: 1-12). David also prays against actual violence and plans of entrapment.
It is worth noticing that his pray intensifies as the Psalm progresses and moves from prayers of defense (protection) to prayers of offense (attack). The turning point comes when he focuses on God Himself (6-8). Faith enables David to be more positive and assertive in prayer. All results in a confident conclusion of praise in God’s justice and the inevitable victory through Him.
David, in His prayers, is often very dramatic, even harsh; this the passion of prayer wrapped up within righteous anger. Praying in this way enabled him to turn situations to God so that while hot in prayer he was cool in action, trusting all to God’s will and sovereignty.
In life, as God’s children, we will face those who dislike us, speak against us and even threaten violence towards us. We live in a secular society that, at present, tolerates our faith with unease. The Gospel does offend and if we live according to God’s truth there will be times when there is a negative reaction to us. This Psalm encourages us to go to God in prayer, in total honesty, and in the passion of faith. As we ‘offload’ our hurt and fear, we turn our eyes to God, and can be encouraged by His reality, strength, justice, grace and love. We are reminded that our enemies are principalities and powers (Ephesians 6: 12) and that vengeance belongs to the Lord alone (Jeremiah 46: 10a). Praying like this keeps us from bitterness, heals our hurts and empowers us to love, even our enemies (Matthew 5: 44).
In prayers like this we can move from a defensive stance to one where we go on the attack in the spiritual realm, breaking down the strongholds that govern the situation we are facing. God then goes before us when we step out again in faith.
The Question of Application
Are you facing hurt, fear and challenges? Pray with honesty, turn your eyes to the Lord and witness His deliverance.
Save us, Lord, from all terror and oppression; strengthen us in prayer and faith that your justice may roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen
My Lighthouse by Rend Collective
A Mighty Fortress is our God sung by Matt Boswell
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.