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Sunday, July 2, 2017 pm                                                Psalms Index

 

DELIVER ME FROM EVIL MEN
Psalm 140

 

Tonight we examine the next in our series of psalms studies.  This is another psalm of David, describing a time of distress from enemies in his life.  Because of general descriptions, it could apply to one of numerous occasions that David face, at times from without and other times from within. 

This is a psalm of deliverance and an imprecatory psalm.  It is a psalm of David and like the Psalm 139, it was delivered “to the chief musician” to be used in worship.  One commentator sees this particular psalm as a continuation from the previous one where David acknowledged the power, knowledge and presence of God.  In vs. 19-24 of Psalm 139 David requests of God that He slay the wicked and deal with them (imprecatory).  While Psalm 140 could stand alone, it also could pick up where the previous psalm left off.

In our psalm David is dealing with enemies, something he was familiar with throughout his life.  It could apply to various times in his life from his fleeing from king Saul, to being driven from his throne by his own son Absalom later in life.  It is obviously written during a time of trouble.  OFTEN, when we are facing troubles, inflicted by our enemies we turn to God.  And our prayers reflect our anxiety and need for help.  And that is a good thing.  BUT, let us not forget to turn to Him when all is going well, too.  A study of the psalms of David shows he did this.

 I.                     The ways of the wicked (1-5)

a.       Deliver me, preserve me, keep me – in vs. 1 & 4 – three words are used describing the need for God’s help.    The combined idea of these works is to save us from our troubles (deliver), preserve us (watch over), and to keep us (continually protect us).

b.       From evil and violent men - this is the character of those David is dealing with.  These are not just the indifferent and ungodly person who wants to live their own life in sin.
They are EVIL – meaning the absence of God in them.  They are VIOLENT – meaning malicious and active.  They are WICKED – meaning godless and base in their behavior
This is the one who wants to damage you and stop you in your quest (in this case, our faith). 
Sadly, we are living in times of evil and wicked men who hate God and those who serve Him.  They don’t really want to coexist (though they might use that terminology), they want to dominate and stop the cause of those who challenge them. 
Paul in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 described the sinful condition of those who reject God.  Some of the attitudes he mentioned lead to this intense hatred – blasphemers, slanderers, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, etc.   In vs. 13 Paul said, But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.    He was warning Timothy to not give up.
In describing the deplorable conduct of the wicked in Romans 1:28-32, Paul describes those who did not retain God in their knowledge and where thus given over (by God) to a debased mind to do that which is not fitting.  Among the descriptions are maliciousness, full of envy, strife, evil-mindedness, backbiters, haters of God, violent (ὑβριστής,
hybristēs, from which we get our English word hubris,   one who with insolence mistreats others, even to the point of violence) and inventors of evil things. 
Of such Paul notes these are those who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (Rom. 1:32)

c.        They are described:

                                                   i.      They plan evil things in their hearts – they will scheme in whatever way they can to stop the righteous.  I think of law makers who pass laws making it difficult or illegal to teach against or refuse to accommodate immorality.
I think of teachers in schools and universities that scheme to turn the mindset of our youth against God and His moral standard.
I think of so-called Christians who willingly set out to damage those who challenge their ungodly behaviors and attitudes.
Early in David’s life, when King Saul perceived him to a threat to his throne (because Samuel told him he had been rejected), he sought to destroy David in whatever way he could.  Studying 1 Samuel you read of some of his scheming.
Proverbs 13:2 says, A man shall eat well by the fruit of his mouth, But the soul of the unfaithful feeds on violence.

Proverbs 10:6, Blessings are on the head of the righteous, But violence covers the mouth of the wicked.

                                                 ii.      They continually gather together for war – they are making offensive plans to attack. 
It is no secret that one way we describe ourselves is at war with the devil and his forces (Ephesians 6:10-17).  Friends the militant enemies of God are not standing still.  They are acting.  We need to do the same thing.

                                                iii.      They sharpen their tongues like a serpent, and poison of asps under their lips – the tongue is an effective weapon that inflicts great damage.   It is with the tongue that God is blasphemed and discredited, His followers are mocked and villainized, and plans are made both to justify their sinful and evil plans (think of how it is politically incorrect to condemn homosexuality, false world religions, etc.) and execute them. 
It is often with words that the war begins. Do NOT think that words are not powerful and hurtful.  No wonder James 3:6-8 calls the tongue a fire, a world of iniquity that is an unruly evil and full of deadly poison. 

                                                iv.      They have purposed to make my steps stumble, the proud have spread a trap – entrapment is just another tool of the wicked.  Like those who could find nothing evil to accuse Daniel of before the king, they changed the laws to trap him in his godly behavior – Daniel 6:4-5.
Also think of the enemies of Jesus seeking to entrap Him – “is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar?” (Matthew 22:17)

d.       We live in similar times of ungodliness.  The methods may have changed, but the enemies of truth are just as real.  As we strive to do good, it can be easy to experience similar concerns and frustrations. 

 II.                   A plea for deliverance (6-11)

a.       You are my God – the source of deliverance.
As always, even in David’s troubling times he acknowledges God.  He never forgets his God who is in control.  Recall Psalm 139 and the greatness of God described there. 
David said this to the LORD (meaning he offered a prayer).  It is also something we need to REMIND ourselves of in troubling times.  God IS in control!  Hebrews 13:6 – when we see Him as our Helper, we ask, “What can man do to me?”

b.       Hear my supplications – recall that a supplication is an intense request.  A strong and humble request.  Philippians 4:6 – be anxious for nothing, but with prayer and supplication, let your requests be made known to God.   In our spiritual battle we are to be praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:18). 

c.        The strength of my salvation – David acknowledges that it is only in His strength that salvation will come.    Remember if God is for us, who can be against us – Romans 8:31, 37 – in Him, we are “more than conquerors”.

d.       You have covered me – when we think of covering it can mean either shelter, or a covering for the head.  Both describe God’s protective care. 
He is our shelter – Psalm 61:3-4, where David said, For You have been a shelter for me, A strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings. Selah

He is our helmet of salvation (cf. Ephesians 6:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:8).  Perhaps David, in writing this psalm thought of going against Goliath.  Goliath was well armored with a helmet of bronze (1 Samuel 17:4-5).  David doesn’t care because he knows the LORD will cover him.  Saul tries to clothe David with his own armor (17:38-39) but it was too big for David.  He takes it off and approaches Goliath with nothing but his sling and some stones and his staff.   As Goliath mocks him, David says in 1 Sam. 7:45-47, Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”
Yes David has great confidence in Him. 

e.       Do not grant the desires of the wicked (imprecatory).  David in his prayers calls upon God to defeat his enemy.  He wants his enemies destroyed.  But again, UNLIKE his enemies who with malice want to destroy him, he turns to God and puts it in His hands, something we must always do (cf. Romans 12:17-21).  Among the request of David:

                                                   i.      Do not grant their desires, do not further their scheme – defeat their purpose – lest they be exalted (and pursue further rejection of Him and His followers)

                                                 ii.      Let their evil words overwhelm them – defeat their cursing, hateful speech and scheming.  Let what they desire of others happen to them.  In this I think of 1 Peter 3:16 where when they speak against you as evildoers, those who revile you may be ashamed.

                                                iii.      Let them be cast into the fire to never rise again – let them be totally stopped, and God’s ways prevail.

                                                iv.      Let not the slanderer be established on earth – slandering never produces good.  It is a sad day when one with such motives is established.

                                                  v.      Let evil hunt and overthrow these violent men – again, the desire is that the wickedness they intend to perpetuate against the godly – let it be turned against them. 

f.         Again, be reminded that we are not saying you should act with hatred or pray with hatred about others.  You are to love and pray for your enemies.  In such psalms, David desires that God’s will prevail and take firm root.  Friends, when we pray for the defeat of the ungodly – is it selfish, or is it a desire for God’s goodness to prevail and to stop the wicked results of ungodly behavior?  AND even in this, NEVER FORGET – all you can do is put it in God’s hands.  Let Him do what He sees as best.

 III.                 Faith (12-13)

a.       The LORD will maintain the cause of the afflicted – David concludes with trust (faith) that God is in control and will prevail.  He will maintain (accomplish completely) His purpose.  He knows those who belong to Him

b.       Justice will come to the poor – in the end, God will, with justice, judge all mankind.   It may that in this life the godly will receive “evil”, but in the end – they will receive their due reward.  That is why our focus is not to be on this world or the things of this world (1 John 2:15-17, Matthew 6:19-21)

c.        The righteous will give thanks to His name – those who are right with God, will ALWAYS acknowledge Him.  With thanksgiving they let their requests be made known to God – Philippians 4:6.

d.       The upright will dwell in His presence – this is our ultimate goal and reward for righteousness.   Remember the promise of Jesus in John 14:3 – I go to prepare a place for you…  Is that not our goal.
AND, in the meantime, while on this earth – if we keep His word, He will come and make His home with us (cf. John 14:23, Matthew 5:8 – the pure in heart will see God).

 

In troubled times, David turns to the LORD. He is honest about what he is enduring and openly makes his desires known to God.  IF prayed and written in the same spirit as the previous psalm, David open his heart to be searched by God (knowing that his motives are totally pure) by Him.  David is troubled and not sure of what will happen next, but NEVER does give up on God.  And neither should we.  Think about it!