Not to us, but to the Lord, does the victory belong. We gain the victory over our foes because of the favour of the Lord and because of the power His sword against the enemy. Through the name of the Lord we trample down our enemies and those who rise up against us. Our hope is not in our own skill or armaments, but in the salvation of the Lord.
But, the Lord is allowing great affliction on His servant and on the people of God. God does not shelter us from the difficulties of life or give preferential treatment to one above another. The Lord seems to have cast off His people and has allowed the enemy to take them as spoil. The people of God seem as nothing but food for the rich and the source of scorn and derision to the worldly. Shame and dishonour seem to be the portion of God’s people and those who hate God are having a field day.
The psalmist feels it is so unfair for he has not forgotten the Lord, neither has the inheritance of the Lord wandered away and been unfaithful. If they had been ungrateful and inconstant, then it would have been understandable, but the writer is having difficulties with the seeming injustice of it all. The quote from Isaiah binds this Psalm to the suffering Saviour…
“We are counted as sheep to the slaughter…”
The Psalmist seeks to awaken the justice of the Lord and pleads for attention. The people are suffering and God must arise and deliver them, for the body is close to death and the soul is humiliated. He calls to God to redeem His people for His mercies sake. This is the only ground for salvation…
Life is full of paradoxes and layers of meaning that we cannot understand. Sometimes we are tempted to think that we have worked out the supreme answer and complete understanding of how human psychology works and the decoding of the labyrinth that is the human psyche.
We cannot work it out. Our own minds are mysteries to us and as the years go by, we come to see that we know precious little about anything.
These short essays are meant to stimulate interest in the world we were made for, where spiritual knowledge is the key. To know the Master and follow Him is the right path and will lead us safely home to eternity where our minds will be understood and made to be what they were meant to be.
This Psalm could be a continuation of Psalm 42, as it contains similar expressions. It was certainly written at the same time and under a situation of strong duress. It could have been the result of the stress of the situation with David’s rebellious son, Absolom, who rebelled against his father and sought to kill him.
David feels the injustice of the situation keenly. He is hurt by the opposition of other people and the insurrection and neglect around his person. He calls people deceitful and wicked, and has been deeply hurt by the insurrection of his son. He knows he is the Lord’s anointed and that God will keep him and the kingdom for him, but at the moment there is much suffering and insecurity. God is the stronghold of his life, but he feels rejected by God too. He is being tested to see if his faith will hold out and if he will trust in the Lord through it all. He asks himself a question as to why he is being neglected so. Why the constant oppression of the enemy? He pleads for the light of God in his life. He wants to know the abiding presence of the Lord and not the constant turmoil in his mind. He asks that the care of God will bring him to the holy mountain of the Lord and there he will find the peace he craves. He knows he will again experience the joy of the Lord and will praise him with the stringed instrument and know delight once again.
The psalmist recites the refrain from the previous Psalm and questions why his soul is so full of disquiet and so downcast with depression and sickness. He admonished himself by reminding himself what God has taught him and that it is not forever. He will hope always in the Lord his God and knows he will be able to praise Him soon.
The picture we see at the beginning of this Psalm is of a deer, an animal, thirsty and desperate for water. The scene mirrors the desire of the psalmist who pants for the presence of the Lord and longs with great longing to know the Lord better. He desires to be with the Lord forever, for all the pleasant streams in this life have dried up for him and he is thirsty for God.
The psalmist is in a deep depression and finds himself on the verge of tears all the time. Everything upsets him and the things he sees and hears in his society are causing him distress. He once went up to the Lord’s house with the joyful throng, but that has all gone past. He remembers it and it is distressing as he is so far away from joy and any festivity. He is so downcast it is like the powerful and deadly breakers in the sea that are crashing upon his psyche and dragging him down into drowning.
The writer questions himself as to why he is so depressed. He cannot get out of it but is caught in a vortex of despair that is destroying his thought processes and turning everything into a negative. Even in this state the Lord ministers to his servant, the psalmist, and encourages him by knowing that this state is not forever. One day soon the Lord will bring him out of the mindset and he will praise the Lord once more. The psalmist pants and longs for that day…
Still he thinks God has forgotten him. For the Christian there is no more painful thought than the possibility that the Lord does not love him, and it is torturous. The comfort is in the pain, for if he did not love the Lord, he would not feel that way. If the Lord did not love him, he would be a castaway. His inner foes torment him and tell him lies about himself and God. The psalmist continues to comfort himself with the question and the certain answer that the Lord will release him. He must put his trust in the Lord alone and wait patiently…
If I judge others harshly, I will be judged by the same standard. The Lord will be merciful to those who have regard for the weak and help them to overcome their difficulties. As we help each other, we are helped of the Lord. We are sustained in the battle with the enemy and strengthened and healed on our sickbeds, that His name will be glorified.
The Lord teaches us in this Psalm some strategies of the evil one, so that we are not naive as we face the enemy. Enemies can appear friendly and supportive but are just gathering information to spread it around and sully the name of the godly person. They harbour hatred in their hearts but appear helpful. They whisper and gossip and say that the misfortune that has befallen the child of God is their own fault and harbour blame towards the suffering person. It can even happen that trusted friends and family can turn against us and gossip and blame us and make us a scapegoat for the ills of the world. People like to tear others down, as it makes them feel good about themselves, and they imagine they are better than others around them. It is rampant pride and insecurity that drive much talk and posturing in our societies.
We can even be betrayed by the people closest to us, who share our homes and our lives. We can be left feeling bitter and cynical about the whole of human life and find ourselves retreating from it all. We can even suffer deep depressions as a result of this kind of behaviour, but the Lord will help us and heal us and give us back our fellow feeling for other humans who have let us down so badly. Only the work of God will help us to forgive and be healed. The Lord our God will not allow the evil-doers to triumph over us but will deliver us and give us great blessings. We magnify His name for all His mighty goodness. The psalmist reminds us that the Lord is the eternal God and His person and purposes are everlasting. We can trust in Him at all times.
This Psalm is a messianic Psalm celebrating the glories of the Lord Jesus and His wonderful works to the children of humankind. The psalmist thanks the Lord for the rescue of his soul from the mire and dirt of his sin and setting him free from the effect of it, both in this life and in the life to come. The Lord delivers the writer from the uncertainty of life and gives him a firm and settled place to stand, both physically and spiritually. All who trust in the Lord exclusively will see the wonders that He has done and will be able to decipher the ways of the Lord and be wise.
God does not require sacrifices from us, for Christ has died in our place, but He requires us to listen to the Word of God and obey it. The desire of the Lord Jesus was to do the will of His Father all the way to the cross on Calvary’s hill. He laid down His life as a willing sacrifice to pay the price of His people and redeem them for himself as a holy nation before the Lord their God. The Psalmist will speak of this and not hide it in the great assembly of the people of God. He will witness to the faithfulness of the Lord at all times.
The psalmist continues to have many troubles that surround him, but he asks the Lord to protect and cover him and to not withhold mercy from him. His troubles are overwhelming and even his eyesight, inward and outward, is affected by the experiences that have circumvented his life. His heart fails and beats double quick time, with the anxiety he feels in the stresses of his life. He asks the Lord to help him quickly because his life draws near the grave. Christ was abandoned by the Father as he bore the sin of many and faced the terrible pain of rejection and separation from the one He loved the best. He faced this up for our sake – out of love for sinful people.
The writer of the Psalm wishes to be delivered from the enemy and the many anxieties that surround him and are causing him much pain. We are delivered from our hurts because Christ faced the ultimate hurt for our sake and laid down his very life for us. “The Lord is great” is the closing salvo of this Psalm and the admission of a heart in its great need.
The psalmist seeks the silence of lack of commitment to avoid the onslaught of any spoken sin. He refuses to speak even to rejoice in the Lord. The longer he is silent the hotter the fire in his heart burns. He does not commit to anything either good or bad, but he finds no peace in his being. Finally the tension is too much and he speaks to the Lord and asks the Lord to show him the sum of his life and the measure of his days. Even though he is a child of God, his days on earth are a mere breath to the Lord. The writer recognises that people are only phantoms that inhabit life for a short while and then disappear and are forgotten, just like vapour.
We rush about the try to make a life for ourselves, but it is folly for we leave everything we accumulate to another person. The psalmist acknowledges the hand of the Lord in all his situations and that the silence is the effect of the lord’s dealings in his life. The writer is beholden to the Lord and recognises his complete dependence on Him who made him. He recognises the work of God in rebuke and comes to the Lord in repentance and contrition.
The psalmist recognise that he has no hold on the Lord and no rights before him, like a foreigner in a strange land, he is a stranger to the Lord. He asks the Lord to hear him and not to remain deaf to his calls for help. He asks God to turn away from him so that he can rejoice again and enjoy life like he used to. He knows this is only possible through repentance and faith and the confession of that faith in the spoken word.
The psalmist is in personal trouble, for he has deviated from the way of God and is suffering the consequences of his sin. The arrows of guilt and fear has permeated his psyche and he is suffering in all parts of his being. He asked God not to rebuke him and to turn the punishment and pain away from his life. Although he belongs to God, he feels the tail end of God’s wrath in his mind and it is a burden too heavy to bear. He cannot bear being separated from his God in any way, such is the fellowship they enjoy together.
He is suffering in his body with actual physical pain because of his wandering heart, and his mind and soul also suffer in anguish and pain. Friends and family have rejected him because of the effect of sin in his life. He is alone, crushed and groaning in his soul to be released from the pain of guilt and anguish. His only refuge is the Lord, since it is the Lord he has offended, and he knows there is mercy with the Lord uniquely.
The writer of this Psalm is acutely aware of the enemy who gather around waiting for a opportunity to strike and bring him down into the depths of despair. He is powerless, blind, deaf and dumb to the onslaught, but God is his refuge and strength in this present deep trouble. He feels his sin acutely and wished to be free from it and to have the victory in his life over the foes that surround him. The psalmist confesses his sin and admits his great fault and asks for reconciliation to God his Saviour. This is a penitential psalm and teaches us to turn to the Lord in our sinfulness and to experience the free forgiveness He offers to us. However far down the road of guilt we may go, the Lord can and will release us and set us free from it.
In this Psalm we have the life preoccupations of the people of God and the people of this world and how they impact on each other. It is difficult for the Christian believer when the people who serve this world seem to do well, while the child of God is oppressed, either in their daily life or in the thought processes of their mind. This fallen world is not their spiritual home and it can be a pressure to live under the dictates of the ways of it.
We are instructed how to cope with the various aspects of life that affect us and cause us concern. Above all we are taught to trust in the Lord at all times and He will rescue, restore and vindicate His people. We are to live our lives in quietness and the security of knowing Christ and to take pleasure in knowing the Lord and He will give us all we desire. God tells us to be still before Him and not to fret or be angry when wickedness seems to prosper. The Lord is in control and He will vindicate the position of His people at the appointed time. The wicked will pass away and the righteous will inherit the land, indeed the Lord laughs at the wicked. The ungodly might seem to prosper greatly and flourish in the general scheme of society, but their success is only for time and not eternity. The wicked oppress the lifestyles of godly people, but it is only the outworking of wickedness in society and will never prosper before the court of the Lord.
The wicked may plot against the righteous but their plotting will turn back on themselves. They will take them through the courts, but justice will be done in God’s time. The wealth and power of the wicked will be broken but the Lord makes the steps of blameless people firm and secure. The righteous speak wisely and truthfully, and there is a future for them that is kept by God. The wicked might seem to prosper but they pass out of life and are forgotten by God. There is no future for the wicked. The salvation of God’s people is not from themselves, but they are preserved by the power of the Lord. He will not allow them to be destroyed by the wicked because righteous people take their refuge in the Lord. Time eventually runs out for all evil doers and eternity makes amends for all sorrows.
Thank you to bloggers and friends who look at and encourage me with this website. If you found it helpful, maybe you could share the address with others you know. I am going through the book of Psalms at the moment and making a comment each day. It is helping me to focus on the Scriptures and think more deeply about the implication for my Christian life. I hope you also find it helpful.