Psalm 59: Strong fortress

Where is your safe place?  What do you put your trust in?  What gives you peace?  These are the kind of questions we've asked ourselves a lot as we go through the psalms.  It shouldn't surprise us really.  It's because these passionate prayers of reliance on God come from some of the darkest, toughest days experienced by the psalmist - often David.  He turns to God on his best days and on his worst because he knows God is reliable and steadfast and with him.

For any of us who have put our faith in Jesus to make us friends with God, he doesn't promise to get us OUT of the troubles we face.  But he does promise to get us THROUGH what we face.  And he does this by being WITH US.  He is our safe place wherever we go.

In this psalm, David describes God as a FORTRESS of safety.  And he wrote this one when Saul (the previous king) had sent men to watch David's house in order to kill him...

Deliver me from my enemies, O God;
    be my fortress against those who are attacking me.
Deliver me from evildoers
    and save me from those who are after my blood.

See how they lie in wait for me!
    Fierce men conspire against me
    for no offence or sin of mine, Lord.
I have done no wrong, yet they are ready to attack me.
    Arise to help me; look on my plight!

David isn't perfect.  He knows he too needs God's mercy and forgiveness.  But in this case, he is the innocent victim.  He's done nothing for Saul to want him killed.  Quite the opposite.  David honoured Saul, even when Saul was dishonourable.  He asks God to LOOK and to SEE his situation and then to ARISE, SAVE and DELIVER him from the injustice of it.

We too can pray this prayer.  We're not 100% innocent but sometimes we do suffer injustice from others.  Not like the unjust suffering that people face in poorer countries where they don't have easy access to clean water, food, healthcare and education (let's keep a global perspective).  But still, even in richer countries like ours we can face unjust persecution, wrong decisions, and social exclusion.  It's not right.  And we ask God to LOOK and SEE and to ARISE, SAVE and DELIVER.  He will be our strong fortress!  He will be our unshakable safe place through times of trouble and injustice, whatever the immediate outcome.

God sees it all...
 
You, Lord God Almighty,
    you who are the God of Israel,
rouse yourself to punish all the nations;
    show no mercy to wicked traitors.

They return at evening,
    snarling like dogs,
    and prowl about the city.
See what they spew from their mouths –
    the words from their lips are sharp as swords,
    and they think, ‘Who can hear us?’
But you laugh at them, Lord;
    you scoff at all those nations.

David prays for ultimate justice against God's enemies.  We sometimes wince at the thought of God punishing his enemies but we must allow God to have his own unique perspective.  "Who are you to judge?!", we might say, but then quickly we should realise the obvious answer to that question.  He really is the only one who's in the position to judge justly.  And he will.  

In the end no-one gets one over on God.  No-one gets away with anything.  No sin goes unpunished.

The question for each of us is, "Will God's judgment for my sin fall on me, or on Jesus who died for me?"  We have a choice about that!
 

You are my strength, I watch for you;
    you, God, are my fortress,
10     my God on whom I can rely.
God will go before me
    and will let me gloat over those who slander me.
11 But do not kill them, Lord our shield,
    or my people will forget.
In your might uproot them
    and bring them down.
12 For the sins of their mouths,
    for the words of their lips,
    let them be caught in their pride.
For the curses and lies they utter,
13     consume them in your wrath,
    consume them till they are no more.
Then it will be known to the ends of the earth
    that God rules over Jacob.

14 They return at evening,
    snarling like dogs,
    and prowl about the city.
15 They wander about for food
    and howl if not satisfied.

David has the boldness to ask God not only for justice but also to let him GLOAT over his enemies.  Is it ok to pray for this?  Sometimes the Bible is PRESCRIPTIVE - giving us an example to follow.  Other times it is simply DESCRIPTIVE - showing us what people said and did without any expectation that we should copy it all.  So which is this?  

I think this part of David's prayer is both:

It's PRESCRIPTIVE in that it's honest prayer to God and we should follow David's example and not hide what's truly on our hearts and minds.  God knows it all anyway and we should willingly and boldly tell God what we really think and feel and want.  He can take it, even if he needs to say NO to what we ask for because it's not the right or best thing.

But it's DESCRIPTIVE only, when David desires to be able to gloat over his enemies.  I don't think this is a GOOD desire for him or for us to have.  But if we DO have this desire (as David clearly did) - we would be better off being honest with God about it than pretending we don't have that desire at all.

David finishes with joy, even with everything that's been happening around him to try and end his life, and regardless of whether or not he gets what he asks for from God...

16 But I will sing of your strength,
    in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
    my refuge in times of trouble.

17 You are my strength, I sing praise to you;
    you, God, are my fortress,
    my God on whom I can rely.

Can you echo this part of David's prayer?  If not, why not ask God to help you to know him this way?

BACK