Drowning for the Gospel
Drowning for the Gospel
Main Idea: God ultimately will vindicate his children because of their zeal for the gospel even though they presently face opposition.
I. The Crisis at Hand (69:1-4)
II. The Concern for Reputation (69:5-6)
III. The Cause of Opposition (69:7-12)
IV. The Cry for Help (69:13-18)
V. The Cup of Reproach (69:19-21)
VI. The Curse of Enemies (69:22-29)
VII. The Concert of Praise (69:30-36)
I love movies based on true stories, in spite of the speculation and fiction that often characterizes Hollywood’s depiction of historical events. One of the most gut-wrenching scenes I’ve ever watched is in the movie Pearl Harbor. After the U.S.S. Arizona is attacked by the Japanese, sailors are scrambling everywhere, some just trying to take cover and survive, others trying to help injured or trapped comrades. At one point a group of sailors are trying to free some others who are trapped in the hull of the ship, which is quickly filling with water. Some of the entombed men are frantically reaching their hands through a small hole in the ship’s hull, desperately pleading for someone to save them. One of the sailors outside compassionately grabs the hand of one of his perishing shipmates. The scene ends when the hand of the trapped sailor stops moving. The water below overtakes him. His hopeless grasp for help ends in vain. The rescuing grip is too late. A soldier, zealous for his country, loses his life.
The psalmist understands what it means to be drowning and in desperate need of God’s rescuing hand. His devotion to God and his house creates a life-threatening situation. In Psalm 69 he’s drowning, and he’s desperately reaching out for God to save him. Although this psalm was evidently penned by David, it likely was tweaked and applied to the circumstances of God’s people long after it was written. They were either in exile or in some other dangerous situation, and they needed God’s salvation. Once again, he gives them hope.
Believers may sometimes face the psalmist’s predicament, as well as the predicament of the despairing sailor trapped in the Arizona’s hull. Our zeal for Christ, his church, and the other institutions of the Christian faith will sometimes put us in situations in which we feel like danger is overtaking us. Just this week I was reminded of this assault when I went to use the restroom in a restaurant, only to find a placard on the outside that stated that the facilities were “gender neutral.” On the same day I read a story in the news about a teacher in Texas who was sent home to change her T-shirt because it had the words Just Pray on it. These two occurrences are merely a small sampling of the relatively new clashes being made against the Christian faith in America, which pales in comparison to the total war that’s been assaulting global Christianity for decades and even centuries.
God’s hand, however, will never fail to reach us in his time. In this song the psalmist’s deadly dilemma points to the hope that believers have in Jesus Christ, the one who ultimately will enable them to reach their destination. Our God wants his people to zealously defend the faith, advance the gospel, and announce his glory in all the earth. However, doing so will often reap bitter opposition from people both inside and outside the community of faith. That’s because zeal for the things of God always rubs people wrong who aren’t on board. But this psalm—with its numerous pictures of God’s Messiah—is a reminder that our Lord is worth our suffering and sacrifice.
The Crisis at Hand
The psalmist describes his current crisis first by noting a lethal assault (vv. 1-2). His enemies have him in the deep end of the pool, and he doesn’t know how to swim! His ship has sunk, and he’s trying to stay afloat in the raging sea.
In the wake of this assault, the psalmist is making some attempts to get God’s attention and marshal his help, but he’s “weary” (v. 3). Neither his ceaseless cry for help nor his constant search for divine rescue has gotten any response, so the reality of his demise is setting in.
David drops his metaphorical description and identifies the tangible reality of his situation. His trouble is due to the innumerable host of false accusations being levied at him by enemies. The term without cause suggests their attack isn’t due to a simple misunderstanding but instead is a purposeful distortion of the truth. His conclusion underscores the injustice at hand: “Though I did not steal, I must repay” (v. 4).
The Concern for Reputation
I was a PK of sorts growing up. I wasn’t a “preacher’s kid,” but a “principal’s kid.” During my entire high-school tenure, my dad was the superintendent of our small school system, so to some degree we lived in a glass house just like the families of preachers. What we kids did and how we acted not only reflected on our own reputations but on my dad’s as well. My parents taught us the importance of guarding our reputation, their reputation, and especially Christ’s reputation. They instilled in us the conviction that we should always be concerned about how our actions—whether right or wrong—might reflect on what other people thought about us and our Lord.
At the end of my senior year in high school, our coaches selected me to receive the Athlete of the Year award at our annual sports banquet. It was arguably the most prized athletic award at our school and one that was a huge honor to receive. However, when my dad found out about the selection, he went to the coaches and told them to give the award to someone else. I remember the night he came into my room and told me what he had done. He told me how much he loved me and how proud he was of me for being chosen by the coaches, but he said he didn’t want anyone to ever think the only reason I received the award was because he was the superintendent. It wasn’t wrong for me to get that award; it was a good thing. Doing so, however, would run the risk of reflecting poorly on both my reputation and my dad’s.
The psalmist was concerned about reputation. In verse 5 his lament begins to expand in widening concentric circles of concern. His first concern is over his own guilt, or even just the public perception of his guilt. But he doesn’t stop there. He broadens his alarm to how the charges against him will reflect poorly on the community of faith (v. 6) and even on God himself (vv. 7,9). We can examine these expanding concerns by looking at the psalmist’s personal responsibility in causing the reproach and his request for God’s help to prevent it.
We first see the responsibility the psalmist assumes for the marred reputation. In verse 5 the holy searchlight of the righteous Father ultimately finds its way to his drowning child. However, its effect is not what we might have expected. Instead of resulting in David’s deliverance, it results in David’s dissection! Instead of the outcome being his physical rescue, it turns out to be his personal responsibility! While we’re not told the specifics of David’s offense—or even whether the accusations against him are valid—the parallel acknowledgments of “my foolishness” and “my guilty acts” (v. 5) suggest multiple transgressions that offended God. The psalmist understands that none of his legitimate guilt ever escapes the probing gaze of his omniscient God.
It’s funny how prayer works, especially when I feel like I’m drowning. I often come before God with an entire grocery list of things I need from him and—before I know it—he’s showing me all kinds of stuff he wants from me. My praying frequently starts off with the expression of my physical needs, but the focus quickly turns to my spiritual needs. My prayer sometimes begins with objective wants, but it ends up with reflective needs. You can’t rush into the light of God’s presence and be there very long without his revealing glory turning back on you. That seems to be what happens to David as he describes his immediate crisis to God. He started off with a metaphorical account of his current state and his desperation for God to help (vv. 1-3), then moved to a more objective description of his state of affairs under the attack of his enemies (v. 4), but now ends up confessing his own sin (v. 5)! “Prayer is already doing its work” (Kidner, Psalms 1–72, 264).
O Christian, be encouraged and challenged with the beauty of God’s economy in prayer! When we’re drowning because of our faith, our faithfulness to “search” for his help in prayer most often will result in him searching us, a quest that always uncovers our own responsibility, or at the very least a healthy examination of our spiritual state. And while David’s wrongdoing was not likely the direct cause of his current chaos, we can’t dismiss the possibility (see v. 26). When we’re praying out of desperate circumstances, we should first entertain the prospect that we’ve in some way contributed to their presence.
Next, the psalmist makes his request for God to stay the effects these accusations might have on the reputation of his people. The parallelism in Hebrew highlights this distress in verse 6. David appeals to God in desperation that “those who put their hope in you” and “those who seek you” wouldn’t be “disgraced” or “humiliated.” While such reproach would be horrific for any reason, his concern here is that it would happen “because of me.” Whether the charges against him were valid or not, he knew they would reflect on God’s people. For the Israelites, shame and disgrace as a result of an enemy’s attack didn’t prompt internal emotions alone but also visible actions of communal rejection and detraction (see Pss 70:2; 71:1,13). Whether the psalmist had to wear some sign of disgrace or experience some kind of public shunning by the community, the community’s assumption of his guilt would have been manifested in some obvious and visible way (Wilson, Psalms, 952).
The Cause of Opposition
In somewhat of a cause-and-effect fashion, the psalmist puts some specifics to the root and result of the reputation he’s developed. He first identifies the ultimate cause for the tarnished reputation that’s come his way. He says that it’s because of “you” (v. 7) and “zeal for your house” (v. 9) that the criticism has come. Here he reveals what he really thinks about the scorn he’s experiencing. It isn’t actually the result of his personal failing but the repercussion of his commitment to God. Then he tells us the subsequent effect on his life. The descriptive terms insults (vv. 7,9) and shame (v. 7) both suggest public reproach that has been levied against him for God’s sake. And that reproach, he says, has alienated him (v. 8). To be ostracized by family or friends in the ancient world was serious business.
The picture the psalmist is painting here is like that of an accused criminal leaving a courthouse. He’s doing his best to hide his face from a reporter’s camera while a group of angry citizens yells accusations and insults from the informal gallery behind a police barricade. To intensify the situation, his own embarrassed family is trying to blend anonymously into the crowd (cf. Num 12:14; Deut 25:9; Job 20:15; 30:10). This is not at all unlike what happened to our Lord on the night before he died. The religious gallery vehemently exclaimed, “‘He deserves death!’ Then they spat in his face and beat him; others slapped him and said, ‘Prophesy to us, Messiah!’” (Matt 26:66-68). And just a short time later his close friend denied three times that he even knew him (Matt 26:69-75).
In verse 9 the psalmist says to God that his reproach is due to “zeal for your house.” The descriptions in verses 10-11 indicate an open display of weeping, fasting, and wearing sackcloth, all of which represent the psalmist’s public mourning over some kind of assault on the temple or at least the refusal of some people to humble themselves before God. Apparently, those identified with this resistance saw David’s mourning as an occasion to make him a “joke” (v. 11) or mockery, as well as the subject of insulting conversation among the city leaders and the sport of the drunkards (v. 12).
Again, the descriptions here point us to one who ultimately would suffer because of his zeal for God. While partial references to Christ are scattered throughout this psalm, the entirety of verse 9 finds its fulfilment in him. When Jesus drove out the money changers from the temple, “his disciples remembered that it is written: Zeal for your house will consume me” (John 2:17). And when Paul was appealing to the Roman believers to work to help the weak instead of pleasing themselves, he pointed out, “Christ did not please himself. On the contrary, as it is written, The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me” (Rom 15:3). What appears to be some weakness on the part of God in this psalm for not responding to the psalmist’s desperate pleas now makes perfect sense. The theme of this song is redemptive, for it is a privilege for God’s children to “be treated shamefully on behalf of the Name” (Acts 5:41). It is—despite its cost—a high compliment when we are drowning for the sake of Christ, his church, and all the institutions of the Christian faith.
The Cry for Help
Awhile back I found out that a fellow believer was struggling with depression. Apparently he’d been battling with it off and on for some time. He told me that he hadn’t disclosed it to anyone primarily because he was embarrassed that someone who had been a Christian as long as he had would have such weak faith. He finally got plugged into a godly Christian counselor to talk through his journey. In the first session the counselor made a good recommendation. He said, “When you get home today, I want you to sit down and just begin to list all of the ways God has been faithful to you through the years.” My friend followed his directions. When he recounted the exercise to me, he shared how amazed he was at the comfort he experienced simply retracing the goodness of God in his life.
Believers in Christ learn to trust in God’s faithfulness because he’s so consistent with it! When we find ourselves drowning in some unwarranted attack or other personal crisis, we can find strength and encouragement by acknowledging and expressing that trust. That’s what the psalmist does here. Notice the circumstances he’s in, the cry he makes, and then especially the character of God that provides the foundation of his prayers.
The psalmist’s circumstances are disastrous, so once again he returns to the imagery of drowning (vv. 14-15) and just generally being “in distress” (v. 17). The reference to the “Pit” in verse 15 is likely the picture of being buried alive in a well that somebody’s about to close up by putting a stone on top. Death is imminent if God doesn’t show up.
Because of his perilous plight, David cries out to God. The opening “But as for me” (v. 13) contrasts his appeal with the hateful attacks of his detractors in verse 12. While they decry him at the city gate and make fun of him at the local bars, he’s going to pray. So he cries out for God to “answer me” (vv. 13,16,17), “rescue me” (v. 14), “don’t let the floodwaters sweep over me” (v. 15), “turn to me” (v. 16), “don’t hide your face from [me]” (v. 17), “come near to me,” “redeem me,” and “ransom me” (v. 18). Once again the little child crawls up in his heavenly Father’s lap, grabs his cheeks and turns his face toward him and begs for his help. It’s a safe place for the psalmist, and so it should be for us.
In verse 18, the word redeem describes the duty of a man’s next of kin to stand up for him in trouble, to avenge his death (Num 35:19), or to buy back his land or liberty (Lev 25:25,48-49). The word ransom carries the basic idea of purchase (Ps 31:5). The two verbs are found together in Isaiah 35:9-10, where God’s people are called “the redeemed” and “the ransomed” (Kidner, Psalms 1–72, 266).
The most significant implications of these actions aren’t realized until the cross of Christ. Speaking about himself, Jesus says, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matt 20:28; cf. 1 Tim 2:6). And Paul declares that Jesus “redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal 3:13; cf. Titus 2:14). As we crawl up into God’s lap to plead for help, we know that our access to that safe place is only possible through the work of Christ on the cross, and in him we look with faith and humility for God to deliver us from trouble.
The psalmist appeals to God’s character. The grounds for assuming that it’s “a time of favor” (v. 13) is that these are the times God has acted in faithfulness to his people in the past! David is confident that the time he needs help is the same time God hears and answers! So in humility and faith, he appeals to the forever love God has for his covenant people (v. 13; cf. v. 16). He reaches out and appeals to, literally, God’s “truth salvation” (v. 13). These references underscore the trustworthiness of God to act on behalf of his children and deliver them.
David didn’t learn these truths about God from a creed but from experiencing his faithfulness and deliverance through time. Just like my friend who was struggling with depression, every believer in Christ can recount a litany of times God has shown himself faithful and strong in our lives. Some of those times have been when we’ve asked, and some of them have even been times when we haven’t! God’s character should always be the object to which we appeal in prayer. His nature and attributes—manifested in Christ—reflect his glory and provide the sure basis on which he hears and responds to his children in time of need.
The Cup of Reproach
The psalmist not only appeals to God’s character, but he finds assurance in the fact that God is keenly aware of all of the details of his situation (v. 19). God knows about his enemies as well as their effect on him. The weight of the assault evidently has broken his spirit (v. 20). He can’t go any further; he’s ready to quit. He’s about out of oxygen as the waters of hopelessness overtake him.
As if that isn’t enough, there’s no sympathy to be found anywhere (v. 20). His vain search for support just heaps coals on the fire of his loneliness and futility. Instead of finding sympathizers in his search, his empty stomach and dry mouth are only met with harmful and distasteful substitutes for satisfying sustenance (v. 21).
Much of David’s description of his plight is clearly metaphorical, but his words look forward to an event and a person for whom this mockery, maligning, and maliciousness would be all too literal. Recounting Jesus’s crucifixion, the Gospel writer says that at one point “they gave him wine mixed with gall to drink” (Matt 27:34). A short time later “one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and offered him a drink” (Matt 27:48). And while Matthew doesn’t specify these events as prophetic fulfillment of the psalmist’s words, John does: “When Jesus knew that everything was now finished that the Scripture might be fulfilled, he said, ‘I’m thirsty’” (John 19:28).
This “poisonous” identification with Christ is only the culmination of the cross motif that runs through these verses, as well as the whole psalm. The words insults, shame, and disgrace (v. 19; cf. vv. 6-12) reflect the intense dishonor of public shame that was far more devastating in the close-knit society of the Old Testament than in our own (cf. Num 12:14). Contrary to those who would see this gesture as an act of compassion simply to numb Jesus’s pain on the cross, the New Testament writers see it as underscoring his intense agony of abandonment and betrayal as he died—one that should compel us to faithfully endure the same:
Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Heb 12:1-2)
The vinegar-soaked sponge was a definitive expression of mockery, a “painful lack of concern—even sadistic toying with the urgent needs of the suffering” (Wilson, Psalms, 955). Such was the cup of reproach our Lord drank on our behalf. We should be willing to do the same.
The Curse of Enemies
Up to this point in the psalm, we’ve seen so many allusions to Christ and his passion (vv. 4,9,21) that we might expect the psalmist to now pray for God to forgive his enemies, just as Jesus did on the cross. Instead—serving as a reminder of the stark contrast of what Jesus did for us—David’s anger is kindled by his zeal for justice, about which the Old Testament largely exists to remind us (Kidner, Psalms 1–72, 266–67). The next eight verses are a catalog of curses he prays down on his enemies, all of which are things God was going to do sooner or later. David’s life was in danger, and the reputation of God’s community was hanging in the balance. So he prays for judgment urgently and boldly, much as we should do on this side of the cross when we’re longing for Jesus to come.
These verses can be analyzed from three different angles. What he’s asking God to do is clear—he wants him to turn the tables on his enemies (v. 24). He’s basically asking God to destroy his enemies and save him. He wants him to flip the script!
Why the psalmist wants God to strike his enemies and deliver him is stated in verse 26. This is a summary of his plight as narrated in the whole psalm up to this point. Whether the psalmist was being disciplined for some sin, suffering for the purpose of sanctification, or just reaping the consequences of his faithfulness (vv. 4-12), he had found himself in a low state of affairs under the sovereign, heavy hand of his God (vv. 1-3,14-15). Instead of having pity on him, however, his enemies continued to turn up the heat, falsely accusing him (v. 4), taunting him (vv. 11-12), and even mocking him in his pain (vv. 18-21).
How David wants God to judge his enemies makes up the lion’s share of these verses. In summary, he wants God to strike at the heart of both the physical and spiritual elements that sustain people in this world: food, health, shelter, and the grace that only God can give. First, in verse 22 he asks that, when they sit down to eat and celebrate the sign of God’s presence, he would turn their table on them and let it be the means of their demise. “They had given him poison and sour wine for food and drink; it is fitting that their celebratory feasts become their undoing, as they are found out and destroyed suddenly” (Ross, Psalms, vol. 2, 498).
Second, in verse 23 the psalmist asks God to take away their health. The reference to dimmed eyes may mean he’s asking God to physically blind them, or it may mean he wants them to lose their ability to reason and understand what’s good and right. The reference to the hips speaks of their strength and vigor, which the psalmist wants God to weaken in terror. While David appears to be referring to physical elements in verses 22-23, Paul applies them to the spiritual condition of the Israelites who rejected God’s great salvation in Christ Jesus (Rom 11:9-10). Those who reject the gospel are spiritually malnourished and blind.
Third, in verse 25 the psalmist asks God to remove their shelter. Just as their attacks on him had isolated him from his family and friends, he prays that God will do the same for them by causing them to have to abandon their abode. Peter, of course, applied this verse to Judas’s default on his apostolic office (Acts 1:20). Spurgeon observes, “What occurs on a large scale to families and nations is often fulfilled in individuals” (Spurgeon, Treasury of David, vol. 3, 183). Rejection of the gospel results in rejection of the abode God intends for us.
Fourth, in verses 27-28 the psalmist prays against his enemies ever receiving God’s grace. The first phrase literally means “add more iniquity to their iniquity” or let them continue to sin so both their guilt and subsequent punishment will increase. He wants God to abandon them to their own desires—or let them reap what they sow (Gal 6:7)—so they won’t find favor from him and be forgiven of their sins. He thinks they should be “erased from the book of life” (v. 28). Although the New Testament will extend this “roll call” idea to indicate eternal life (Luke 10:20; Phil 4:3; Rev 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12,15; 21:27), here it refers to people living in this life. David’s asking that they be removed from the roll sheet of the righteous who will inherit the earth (cf. Pss 25:13; 37:9,11,22,29,34; Isa 60:21; Matt 5:5). The bottom line: he wants his enemies to be excluded from the saving grace of God’s salvation.
Before we leave these verses in which the psalmist—once again—is calling down fire from heaven, we need to be reminded of what this teaches us about prayer on this side of the cross. First, we put retribution in God’s hands. There’s no question David is spewing out his pain like an erupting volcano, but he’s directing it to God. His suffering and anger are real emotions that we feel sometimes in the midst of our desperation, and we need to be open and honest with our heavenly Father about them. It’s healthy—both physically and spiritually—for us to express our feelings to God. However, we should never act on them ourselves. All of the things for which the psalmist prays are God’s actions against those who attack his people. In the same breath that we pray these kinds of things, we should also be asking God to forgive those who come against us and give us grace to love them (Rom 12:17-21).
Second, even if we’re not drowning to the point of wanting to pray like this, let’s always remember there are fellow believers in the world right now who—like David—are desperately feeling this way. They’re experiencing this kind of anger and hate because the waters of despair are overtaking them. Their honest expression of these kinds of emotions, however, doesn’t negate their relationship with God. Our brothers and sisters who are being abused, tortured, and unjustly accused need our empathetic, sympathetic, and fervent prayer, as well as our physical presence and aid if we can provide it. Jesus identifies with their suffering and pain, even if it results in death. “If God went so far to stand in solidarity with the suffering of the world, how can we do less?” (Wilson, Psalms, 960). Even if we’re not suffering right now, let’s never neglect to remember those who are.
The Concert of Praise
The language in this last section suggests this song may have been tweaked for use in the communal worship of God’s people during desperate times long after David’s day, possibly even during the exile or beyond. Those “who are prisoners” (v. 33) and “the descendants of his servants . . . and those who love his name” (v. 36) anticipate the day when God will “build up the cities of Judah. They will live there and possess it” (v. 35). The reference to “Judah” alone implies the psalm’s employment sometime during the divided kingdom, a time when many among God’s people longed for restoration.
The fact that a number of psalms seem to have served this purpose should encourage us in their use in our own situations. Their application is timeless because God’s people will always be in need, and he will always be there to help them. Furthermore, regardless of the particular situation that inspired this application, the predicament of the people of God reflects an eschatological hope that transcends its historical setting. The children of God’s Servant, Jesus, and the ones who love his name ultimately will inherit his land!
As usual, God strengthens the faith of the psalmist in the midst of his drowning. As he’s crying out to God, his heart is turned from despair to devotion, from worry to worship. Our Father will do this for us as we crawl up in his lap with our frantic faith and pray for him to deliver us. God himself will turn our distress to doxology if we will persevere in pursuing him. This praise issues forth in telescopic fashion from three concentric circles.
The first circle is the thanksgiving of the psalmist, the one who’s been in dire straits. He resolves to praise and exalt God (v. 30). This personal, heartfelt praise is more pleasing to God than the most expensive religious sacrifices (v. 31). God delights in a joyous and grateful song that comes from a sincere heart more than he does religious ritual that’s offered out of routine.
The second circle is the worship of the larger body of God’s people. They’re described as those who are “humble . . . who seek God” (v. 32) and “the needy . . . his own” (v. 33). When they see the psalmist’s sincere worship, they will be inspired to join in and have their spirits strengthened (v. 32) because “the Lord listens . . . and does not despise” (v. 33) them. Beloved, God inhabits the praise of his people and answers their prayer, and that should be a great encouragement to us when we find ourselves drowning for the gospel’s sake.
Verse 34 reflects the third circle of worship as the psalmist calls for “everything” to join in the praise to God. God is worthy of the worship of his whole creation! This universal praise—reinforced by the eschatological references to “Zion” and “Judah” in verse 35 (cf. Ps 37)—anticipates the time prophesied in Revelation 5; 20; and 21 when Jesus Christ will be revealed as the rightful owner of the title deed to the earth and the sole object of the worship of all creation. This is when “the prayers of the saints” (Rev 5:8) will find their ultimate answer in his redemptive work as all creation joins the church in praising him:
You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slaughtered, and you purchased people for God by your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth. (Rev 5:9-10)
Then they will be joined by the thunderous voices of countless angels who will be declaring, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev 5:12). And if that weren’t enough, that universal choir will be joined by every creature in heaven, on earth, under the earth, and in the sea, singing, “Blessing and honor and glory and power be to the one seated on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!” (Rev 5:13).
The concert of praise ultimately will be the worship of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, by everything and everybody in the whole universe. He alone is worthy to be enthroned on the praises of his creation!
The assaults on the teachings and institutions of the Christian faith are escalating at an unimaginable rate in our day. Our Lord has given us the stewardship of protecting and advancing the faith, even though it means we will be criticized, ostracized, and even criminalized for it. Surprisingly, sometimes the opposition will come from within our own camp, but even then, it’s not an option to roll over and play dead. Because of Christ, we know God’s truth will win the day, and his strong hand will be there to save us when we’re drowning. We can always be confident that he will preserve his gospel and pronounce judgment against its enemies. He clearly promised that even the gates of hell won’t be able to succeed in warding off the advancement of his church. So as his soldiers, we reach out to him to deliver us based on the hope he’s promised.
Reflect and Discuss
- David had no hesitation in crying out to God when he needed him. Have you ever been in such a desperate situation that you cried out like David, “Save me, O God!”?
- What hinders our prayer life from becoming like David’s?
- While David is crying out for God to save him, what does God immediately reveal to him (v. 5)? Have you noticed this pattern in your life? Why does God do this?
- God’s enemies oppressing God’s people is nothing new. What comfort does David find in the midst of oppression and persecution?
- Is there a connection between zeal for God and increased persecution? What are some New Testament examples of this?
- This would be categorized as a messianic psalm. What connections do the New Testament authors draw from this psalm to the life of Christ, and where are they found?
- In David, but fulfilled in the life of Christ, what can we learn about standing strong in the face of opposition?
- David is honest with God about what he wants him to do to his enemies. Did David let his temper get out of control? Are we, as followers of Christ, justified to pray like this about our enemies?
- Even if we do not have physical enemies about whom we feel this way, how does this remind us of brothers and sisters across the world that do? How then can we pray for those who are physically persecuted?
- What confidence do we have when, even though we cry out to God, he seemingly is delaying his deliverance? What if he never answers the prayer in the way we ask?