Text: Psalm 64
Again, David cries out to the Lord, as he does in so many of his poems. Bitter words like sharpened arrows (3) rain down on him as evil ones plot his downfall. Dread is more paralyzing than fear, and David asks God preserve my life from dread of the enemy (1b) and their hidden, evil purposes, the secret plots of the wicked (2) who search out injustice (6).
But – a reversal! God shoots his arrow at them; they are wounded suddenly. (7) The Lord sees, and the enemy is unaware of His acting. (5b) He makes an example of them, giving them what they deserve. Their ruin brings benefit as mankind fears [God]; they tell what God has brought about and ponder what He has done. (9) God’s justice brings joy to the righteous who take refuge in Him, with praise and exultation for His mighty work.
There is no specific difficulty that marks this psalm, but David suffers at the hands of plotters and schemers. Secrecy is in the toolkit of the wicked. Plots and schemes carried out behind locked doors in the arrogant belief no one knows are not lost on the all-seeing God. He has been listening all along as David pleads for His help. His swift action reverses the trajectory of the arrows back toward those hurling them. However best-laid their schemes, they have failed.
Bitter words? Lies and vague half-truths that sow discord, gossip that spreads like a disease, misinterpretation that twists good intent, slander that destroys a reputation. Arrows of careless speech wound and kill, and David’s enemies are adept – they think.
Shaking their heads in astonishment at God’s engineering this downfall, the upright in heart look up in thanks and praise. God’s vindication is for their instruction.
How quickly critical thoughts grow into bitter words in the secret place of the heart! As we nurture small grievances against another, as we ‘share’ our annoyances with others of (our) like mind, as we allow dark thoughts to fester, we may find that the secrecy of our schemes backfires. After all, we will be called in the last judgement to account for every careless word we speak. Or arrow we fling.
Fasting from speaking is a hard discipline, but by grace it keeps us firmly centred in the peace and unity of His Spirit.
We do well to consider our words carefully before we speak. We do better to ask God to examine our hearts, then repent of rash, unkind words. And we do best to constantly seek the One who endured such lies on our behalf. May our tongues speak only His good words, from a clean heart.
Lord, who have I injured by my bitter words? Have I openly confessed to the person I have hurt? For those who fling arrows at me, have I found Your way to forgiveness, and prayed for reconciliation in You?
Take my voice and let me sing always, only for my King;
Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from Thee…
Take my will and make it Thine, it shall be no longer mine
Take my heart, it is Thine own, it shall be Thy royal throne
Frances Ridley Havergal
Sing Psalm 64
Poor Bishop Hooper
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Psalm 64 - Pastor Smokie Norful
In 2024, 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.