CONFIDENCE FROM EXPERIENCE Now this again is a psalm of David, and it follows his pattern of praise.  Like the psalm before, David has seen despair but David knows that God will answer, even as he did for the children of Israel in that later captivity.  This is a psalm of one who has seen the victory, and this may have encouraged Israel even when they were oppressed in Babylon. Psalm 140  (To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.)

Deliver me, O LORD, from the evil man: preserve me from the violent man;  Which imagine mischiefs in their heart; continually are they gathered together for war.  They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent; adders’ poison is under their lips. Selah.  Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; preserve me from the violent man; who have purposed to overthrow my goings.  The proud have hid a snare for me, and cords; they have spread a net by the wayside; they have set gins for me. Selah.  Psalm 140:1-5

Are there evil men in the news today?  This is the nature of their hearts that make strategies to destroy others.  Their words are given to perfect violent death against others.  David knew that his enemies were bringing the hate and violence to him.  These who were full of lies were also proud of themselves, unrepentant in planning traps and ambushes for David.

I said unto the LORD, Thou art my God: hear the voice of my supplications, O LORD.  O GOD the Lord, the strength of my salvation, thou hast covered my head in the day of battle.  Grant not, O LORD, the desires of the wicked: further not his wicked device; lest they exalt themselves.   Selah.  As for the head of those that compass me about, let the mischief of their own lips cover them.  Let burning coals fall upon them: let them be cast into the fire; into deep pits, that they rise not up again.  Psalm 140:6-10

David remembers God as his refuge and protection.  Do we remember God, or do we go to the gun store?  David knew the weapons of his day, and he knew that even the strong warrior can be overcome.  How many good men in the old west couldn’t draw or shoot fast enough to survive?  But David knew that he needed more than his best efforts or works to survive.  Before David’s time, Abraham had interceded in prayer for Lot in Sodom.  In that case the burning coals actually did fall on the violent men.  Prayer can give us the edge.

Let not an evil speaker be established in the earth: evil shall hunt the violent man to overthrow him.  I know that the LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted, and the right of the poor.  Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence. Psalm 140:11-13

David prays against the evil speaker.  Such a man was Hitler, and the evil he started finally hunted him down too.  God defends the underdog and the weak.  The outcome is sure and good men will ultimately live in the place of God. Psalm 141 (A Psalm of David.)

LORD, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee.  Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.  Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.  Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.  Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.Psalm 141: 1-5

God help me, and do it now.  David wanted his requests to be as pleasant fragrance that could only win God’s favor.  He asked God to protect him from any evil in his heart or mouth.  He asked for help to be different from evil men.  He wanted to resist the temptations that can begin to seem like sweet treats.  David would welcome rebuke from anyone who would help him to correct his mistakes.  David would pray for his friends when they suffered disaster or fell into temptation, so he wanted their prayer and open correction too.  Enemies show kindness only to set a trap, but friends may intervene to save you.

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.  Proverbs 27:6

When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.  Our bones are scattered at the grave’s mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth.  But mine eyes are unto thee, O GOD the Lord: in thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute.  Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me, and the gins of the workers of iniquity.  Let the wicked fall into their own nets, whilst that I withal escape..Psalm 141: 6-10

In our time gross sin has been eased into our society in music and television over many years.  There is humor or humanism to make evil seem more humane.  Hitler used lies that promised prosperity and glory to gradually lead a nation into gross sin.  Righteous men tried to warn against this but they were too late to resist the darkness.  Judges and governments today can be dominated by drug cartels, sexual deviants, and violence after a long slow process of erosion by lies.  David could see violence closing in on him too, but he had assurance of seeing those judges and rulers fall.  He was in the world, but not of it.  He asked God to protect him while his enemies met their own evil devices.  Those evil devices reappear throughout history.

Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,  And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.  Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:  Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.  For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:  Rom 1:22-26

The Romans had to learn what is wrong as they came to Christ.  Their former idolatry celebrated nudity and the creature more than the creator.  Greek influences helped to transform Romans into a perversely corrupted society.  But that began in misplaced worship, which provoked GOD to turn them to perversion.  They truly are damaged in a way that only God can fix.

And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;  Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,  Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,  Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:  Rom 1:27-31

What began as lust drove God away from them and paved a decline into being a nation of violent evil.  The secret sins degenerated into denial and cruel rebellion.  Rome left a mark of corruption and cruelty including the crucifixion itself.  Today we see that simple rebellion is not enough, the offensive must reach new depths to produce the desired offense in the world; their dark lord demands it.  That “harmless” deviation of lust will manifest in violence.  Don’t think that haters of God will be lovers of peace. Psalm 142 (Maschil of David; A Prayer when he was in the cave.)

 I cried unto the LORD with my voice; with my voice unto the LORD did I make my supplication.  I poured out my complaint before him; I shewed before him my trouble.  When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then thou knewest my path. In the way wherein I walked have they privily laid a snare for me.  I looked on my right hand, and beheld, but there was no man that would know me: refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul.  I cried unto thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my refuge and my portion in the land of the living.  Attend unto my cry; for I am brought very low: deliver me from my persecutors; for they are stronger than I.  Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy name: the righteous shall compass me about; for thou shalt deal bountifully with me.  Psalm 142:1-7

ISIS could teach us how to relate to David’s situation.  He had been pursued first by armies of Saul and later of his own son.  When men listen to demons they degenerate beyond simple perversion.  There are bloody men in the world now, and we may see more in the future.  David knew where to look for help, even when he was hunted and hiding in a cave.  In our cities violence is often ignored by those who don’t want to get involved.  David’s danger is real to many people in our time.  The Star of David was a brand for all of Israel in the last century, and that kind of persecution is raging today in the Middle East.  Are the western nations unprepared to get involved while Israel is being surrounded by ISIS today?  Will we condemn Israel when they respond to the assault of rocket barrages?  David knew his refuge and his salvation.  Will we remember the name of our hope when darkness comes looking for us? Psalm 143  (A Psalm of David.)

Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness.  And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.  For the enemy hath persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made me to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead.  Therefore is my spirit overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate.  I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands.  I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah.  Psalm 143:1-6

David looks up to the Lord for help, but not in pride.  No one can claim to be pure and we all need to repent daily.  David has experienced defeat, and is overwhelmed by the assault of his enemies.  I experienced sieges on our firebase in Vietnam, but we held even when the enemy penetrated our defenses.  After I returned to the United States that same firebase was overrun and taken by the enemy.  The threat is real for all of us today, as violence is still about.  David knew the stress, and the source of his hope in God.

Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.  Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.  Deliver me, O LORD, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me.  Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.  Quicken me, O LORD, for thy name’s sake: for thy righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.  And of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul: for I am thy servant.  Psalm 143:7-12

David is in despair and afraid to go without God’s help, which can only lead to the grave.  David has the hope to hear the love of God, to feel the reassurance of his care.  He expects the morning to bring God’s direction and a guide to safety.  David expects deliverance from his enemies, so he runs to God.  I just read that my lieutenant turned to prayer when he was wounded in Vietnam.  It took me another ten years to realize that I too was wounded and needed to turn to God for help.  Like David we were both quickened to overcome the battles of our day.  Once David has engaged the reinforcements of heaven he too sees the coming destruction of his enemies. David said earlier, “Our bones are scattered at the grave’s mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth.  But mine eyes are unto thee, O GOD”.  So Israel’s bones have been scattered by enemies for millennia.  Christians can relate to Israel as we see persecution spreading throughout the world today.  Whatever sin does it continues to degenerate into violence.  In Sodom the demand for lust turned into violence.  We all die so our bones too will one day be found.  Will we be placed in the grave by a loving family, or found in evidence of sin?  The loving (male) couple in the photo above was found in the ruins of Sodom.  God has rendered them non-violent.