PSALM 109 TALK: REAP WHAT YOU SOW OR SAVED BY GRACE

PSALM 109 TALK: REAP WHAT YOU SOW OR SAVED BY GRACE

(A Psalm of David that is a prayer to God to save him from some very nasty Godless enemies who refuse to follow God’s laws and in fact seek to bring down on David the very curses of God they will face for their opposition to God and his anointed King. David also speaks of being saved by the love and mercy of God, which God gives to those who truly turn to him in faith even though no one deserves God’s love. )

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INTRODUCTION

A very popular concept of how life works in western culture in recent times is called Karma, which has been stolen from the Hindu – Buddhist faiths. A say stolen because from what I have read the popular western concept of Karma is not what Hindu – Buddhist people believe. The Christian web site “gotQuestion?org” puts the Hindu – Budhist idea of Karma this ways,

“It is the idea that how you live your life will determine the quality of life you will have after reincarnation”.

Reincarnation is strongly dismissed by the bible as a false teaching by verses like Hebrews 9: 27, which simply says,

“Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment”.

However the popular western concept of Karma was expressed well by the story lines of a popular American T.V comedy called, “My Name is Earl”. Earl is portrayed as a small time petting criminal who wins a lottery but looses the ticket when he is run down by a car and ends up in hospital. Somehow while Earl is recuperating from many serious injuries in hospital he realises that what has caught up with him is Karma or what he calls bad Karma that is he has done bad things so bad things will happen to him even after good things have happened. The shows plots then follows the course of Earl ticking off a list of bad things he has done in the past which he seeks to correct, which then leads to good things happening to him.

As I said from what I have read My Name is Earl’s concept of Karma is not the same as the Hindu – Buddhist believe as they see all of life as bad or suffering and what they untimely are seeking is a end to this seemingly endless cycle of lives which will lead to their escape from the cycle of suffering in this life.

Strangely what this modern concept of Karma is, is more like the bibles teaching of “You Reap what you sow” as Paul expresses it in Galatians 6: 7,

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows”.

Paul has in mind the final judgment but the concept of “You reap what you sow” does also have a connection in a general sense to this life. As we read in a verse like Proverbs 22: 8 says,

“Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity, and the rod they wield in fury will be broken”.

Jesus also had much to say about this and uses reap what you sow parables to explain this. However this is a general concept of reaping what you sow because if the “My Name is Earl” style reaping what you sow or Karma as he calls it is always working out in this life then we would never see good things in this life because we all, one way or another in the eyes of God have done and will do bad things or sin as the bible calls it.

We are all, believer and non – believer recipients of what theologians call, “General Grace” that is God does not allow us to suffer the consequences of all our sins in this life and even out of his love or grace blesses both the believer and non – believer as Jesus put it in Matthew 5: 45,

“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous”

Psalm 109 is a Psalm of David that features I believe the principal of you reap what you sow as David prays to God what we call a imprecatory prayer which is a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to his enemies. I will speak on whether I believe Christians should pray such prayers in the second section of this Psalm talk.

However for now I would like to answer the question concerning the harshness of this prayer especially in terms of God’s Judgment of what seems to be the innocent children of these very nasty enemies of David.

We read this seemingly harsh prayer request in verses like verses 12 and 13,

“May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children.
13 May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation”.

There are four observations I will make here:

The first is the principle of you reap what you sow and that can be seen clearly in verse 17, which says,

“He loved to pronounce a curse – may it come on him; he found no pleasure in blessing – may it be far from him”.

It has been suggested by some commentators that what David is praying for God to do to these enemies and particularly their principal leader is what they are saying they want God to do to him. So the idea of David’s children suffering and his descendants being cut off from the memory of the earth is what these enemies of David are saying should happen to David.

Secondly the things that the prayer says about David’s enemies families is a consequence of God’s Judgment coming on them as the ancient Hebrew society was family and community focused so if your parents suffered unfortunately you suffered as one of their children. This seems harsh in our modern more individualistic society that has Government welfare etc. that we have in the western world today. However there are other cultures in our world today that still operate like the ancient Hebrew society and children do suffer when their parents get into some kind of difficulty and I have seen this in my many travels through south east Asia.
Thirdly the things David prays to happen to his nasty Godless enemies are in fact part of the curses of God on those Israelites who disobey God and break his law and even the second commandment says this, Exodus 20: 5,

“You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me”.

This seems harsh words but we must remember that the next verse says,

“But showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments”.

God’s principle that we will see running through this Psalm is if you continue to disobey God and refuse to accept his love through the Lord Jesus Christ than you will reap what you so in this life and especially on the day of judgment but if you turn to God in repentance and faith than he will bless you with his underserved love or grace both in this life and especially on the day of judgment and the eternal life with God that follows.

Who these enemies of David are we just cannot tell but he is described the head accuser as some kind of leader in verse 8,

“May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership”

This could suggest that this is King Saul who turned on David and sought to kill him as he accused him falsely as a traitor and for this for eight long years he continually hunted David down causing David much suffering which fits the description David gives himself in verses 22 – 23,

“For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me.23 I fade away like an evening shadow; I am shaken off like a locust”.

So fourthly and finally I would like to say that even though David prayed a very forceful often-merciless prayer for God’s judgment to come on his enemies he never once actually carried out any kind of act of vengeance on his enemies and false accusers like King Saul. In fact twice David had the perfect opportunity to kill his enemy king Saul and both times he opted out of doing this saying something like we read in 1 Samuel 24: 6,

“The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the LORD’s anointed, or lay my hand on him; for he is the anointed of the LORD.”

So David might have prayed these imprecatory prayers which is a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to his enemies but he knew his bible when he considered carrying out these prayers himself when it says in Deuteronomy 32: 35,
“It is mine to avenge; I will repay”

With the twin themes of if you continue to disobey God and refuse to accept his love you will reap what you so in this life and especially on the day of judgment but if you turn to God in repentance and faith than he will bless you with his underserved love or grace both in this life and especially on the day of judgment in mind my outline for this Psalm is:

1. (1 – 5) REPAY EVIL

1. (1 – 2) A cry for God’s help
2. (3 – 5) God’s help in terms of repaying evil

2. (6 – 20) REEP WHAT YOU SOW

1. (6 – 15) The accusers accused and condemned
2. (16 – 20) Their curses turning on them

3. (21 – 31) SAVED BY GRACE

1. (21 – 29) Saved by grace
2. (30 – 31) Praising God for his love

1. (1 – 5) REPAY EVIL

1. (1 – 2) A cry for God’s help

This Psalm is a true personal lament, which starts with a complaint or problem expressed to God in prayer, and finishes with some kind of praise of God or promise of praise for his help or new confidence gained for his dealing with the complaint or problem.

Psalm 109 starts with a genuine cry for help for a very real problem,

“O God whom I praise, do not remain silent, for wicked and deceitful men have opened their mouths against me; they have spoken against me with lying tongues”.

David is saying, my enemies are speaking and making a lot of noise as their words from their mouths speak slanderous lies against me so God don’t continue to be silent. He wants God to speak up for him as he continually speaks up praise for him as he faces the lying accusations of these wicked and deceitful enemies.

This is not the first time David has cried out to God as he faced false charges from his enemies and in Psalm 12 he speaks of a war he is fighting against these enemies a war of words, verses 1 – 4,

“Help, LORD, for no one is faithful anymore; those who are loyal have vanished from the human race.2 Everyone lies to their neighbour; they flatter with their lips but harbor deception in their hearts.3 May the LORD silence all flattering lips and every boastful tongue—4 those who say, “By our tongues we will prevail; our own lips will defend us—who is lord over us?”

Note how David was well aware of the power of the tongue.

David was a brave soldier and writer of beautiful words of praise yet he found throughout his life that it was that little piece of flesh we have in our mouths called the tongue that was his greatest enemy which he just could not find victory over.

This fact reminds me of the beautiful but practical teaching of James who says this about the tongue in James 3: 5 – 10,

“Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.

6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be”.

David knew the truth of these words and he faced all through his long life the power of deceitful lying tongues. Spurgeon pinpoints both the power and the source of this problem David faced with these words,

“In all Satan’s armoury there are no worse weapons than deceitful tongues”.

Yes David knew he would be opposed and sometimes that opposition came in the form of attacks from other nations but more it came from deceitful tongues directed and inspired in the spiritual realm by Satan himself who casts his shadow all through this Psalm 109.

Paul gives us this advice in Ephesians 6: 10 – 11,

“ Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

God forbid that we as followers of God through Christ allow Satan to use us in the slander of our tongues against our dear brothers and sisters in Christ and always refrain then from gossip and loose talking about our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

2. (3 – 5) God’s help in terms of repaying evil

So what does David not want God to be silent about these lying deceitful enemies of his faithful servant?

Verses 3 – 5 answer this question,

With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause.4 In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer.5 They repay me evil for
good, and hatred for my friendship”.

He does not want these enemies he calls in this Psalm his accusers to be able to repay his good with evil and implies he wants God to repay their evil with the very evil they want David to be afflicted by.

David feels he has done nothing wrong and in the context of being chased by King Saul who he genuinely still loved he calls out this to him in 1 Samuel 24: 10 – 15,

“This day you have seen with your own eyes how the LORD delivered you into my hands in the cave.

Some urged me to kill you, but I spared you; I said, ‘I will not lay my hand on my lord, because he is the LORD’s anointed.’ 11 See, my father, look at this piece of your robe in my hand! I cut off the corner of your robe but did not kill you. See that there is nothing in my hand to indicate that I am guilty of wrongdoing or rebellion. I have not wronged you, but you are hunting me down to take my life. 12 May the LORD judge between you and me. And may the LORD avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. 13 As the old saying goes, ‘From evildoers come evil deeds,’ so my hand will not touch you.

14 “Against whom has the king of Israel come out? Who are you pursuing? A dead dog? A flea? 15 May the LORD be our judge and decide between us. May he consider my cause and uphold it; may he vindicate me by delivering me from your hand.”

The words of verses 3 – 5 fit so well in the context of this story in 1 Samuel 24 when after having the perfect opportunity for David to kill Saul he refrained from it as Saul and his men had sought to,

“With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause”.

David in his these words to Saul showed that he still loved him like a Father yet Saul and the men he lead,

4iIn return for my friendship they accused David”.

Yet David had not shown in any way he was out to bring Down Saul as he presented to King Saul that he was,

“A man of prayer”

A man who looked to God for help as he sought to be his faithful servant. Yet Saul and the men under him, sought to,

“Repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship”.

This reminds me of Jesus who did many wonderful things for poor and desperate people like the demon possessed man in Matthew 12 but what do the Pharisees say about this, verse 24,

“ But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

Jesus points out how can demon cast out demon, no it was by the pure power of God that he did what he did yet his enemies,

“Repay Jesus evil for good”.

One day God would repay their evil with what it really deserved in the final judgment to come.

Jesus faced far greater deceitful, lying slanderous attacks of the tongue than even David and he to could be a testimony of David’s words in verse 4,

4 In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer”

We should follow the example of Christ and continue to love our enemies as he did and he commanded us to do as we will consider in much more depth in the next section of this Psalm.

2. (6 – 20) REEP WHAT YOU SOW

1. (6 – 15) The accusers accused and condemned

As I said in the introduction this section two from verses 6 – 20 is a very savage imprecatory prayer, which is a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to his enemies. I also pointed out how many commentators believe that the content of David’s request for judgment to fall on his accusers is in fact the very things they were wishing to come on David. If this is true David is simply turning the savage evil things wished on him into a prayer to God for these things to come on those who openly express them.

How should we as Christians, followers of Christ pray for and treat those who oppose us?

This is a question I have answered a number of times before so I would like to quote from what I said in two previous Psalm Talks when this issue of imprecatory prayers has come up before.

The first is Psalm 69 and in my comments on verses 27 and 28, I said this,

As I have often said when dealing with imprecatory prayers Jesus commands we do the opposite of them. David prays here “do not let them share in your salvation” Jesus says in Matthew 5: 44,

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.

I was looking on the net for the verses that speak of loving your enemies and found them listed by a man named Fritz Clery who in his introduction to the verses says this,

“This topic is something we all struggle with at times. We feel like how can I love someone that keeps sinning against me? They give me no reason to love them. To me this is a reflection of the gospel. Do you give God a reason to love you? A Christian sins before a holy God yet he still pours out his love unto us. There was a time when you were an enemy of God, but Christ loved you and saved you from the wrath of God”.

I wonder how many early Christians prayed for Saul who became the apostle Paul when he was a unbeliever who persecuted many Christians before he met Jesus on the road to Damascus and turned to Jesus and was saved”.

Then in my Psalm talk for Psalm 5 verse 10, I said this,
“Jesus taught us to love our enemies and pray for them, Luke 6: 27 – 29,

“But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic”.

However we also know from the teaching of Christ and the rest of the New Testament that God has appointed a day that all men will be judged, Acts 17: 31,

“For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”

This means that when we read David praying for God to deal with his enemies like he does here in verse 10 (of Psalm 5), who are also God’s enemies we should think of this in the context of the final judgment to come. Martin Luther pointed out that when we pray in the Lord’s prayer, “Thy Kingdom come”, we are praying for God’s day of Judgment to come as well.

However interestingly I did read an article on the net by a man named Dr Peter Hammond, called “Praying for Justice” and he points out that in the many persecuted parts of the world prayers like David is praying here are prayed in places were Christians suffer major and terrible persecution. Here is a small extract from that article,

“Despite the fact that 90 of the 150 Psalms include imprecations (prayers invoking God’s righteous judgment upon the wicked) such prayers are rare in the average Western church. However, amongst the persecuted churches these prayers are much more common”.

I also will be noting the principle I stated in the introduction of reaping what you sow in this section as well. So for the first part of this savage imprecatory prayer which is a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to his enemies verses 6 – 15 I have broken it into three parts:

1. The accuser’s judgment (vss. 6 – 8)
2. The accuser’s family’s judgment (vss. 9 – 10 and 13 – 15)
3. The accuser’s judgment through his community (vss. 11 – 12)

Lets then have a closer look at each of these three parts:

1. The accuser’s judgment (vss. 6 – 8)

I must note that David changes here from speaking of his accusers in the plural sense to a single person sense, which Leopold explains this way,

“Perhaps best explained by the assumption that there was one outstanding leader of the opposition against the psalmist”.

I suggested that this outstanding leader could have been King Saul who conducted a eight year terror campaign of verbal slander and murderous attacks on David and he would be an excellent candidate for David’s evil accuser in this imprecatory prayer.

David uses what seems like judicial language to speak of this leading accuser in verses 6 and 7,

“Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy; let an accuser stand at his right hand.
7 When he is tried, let him be found guilty, and may his prayers condemn him”.

He calls on God to appoint an evil counsellor like a solicitor or barrister standing on his right hand to oppose him maybe just as this accuser had stood against David.

Here we see the first instance of reaping what you sow, the leading accusing stood in the accusing position, his right hand side (see Zechariah 3: 1) to falsely accuse David so now David prays that what he said should happen him might rebound and he might experience being falsely accused of things by a evil man.

This is the role of Satan as the Zechariah 3: 1 reference refers to and Satan is seen coming to God as a accuser of the false view that Job’s faith in God was not genuine and so David wants a Satan like accuser to reap what he sowed, that is be a victim of false charges like he had accused David of.

Then when this sham trial, like again David had experienced, is complete and his accuser will,

“Be found guilty, and may his prayers condemn him”.

I like the Cambridge Bible for schools and Colleges explanation of what these two verses are actually saying, they write,

“Let this heartless persecutor of the innocent be put upon his trial, and that before a judge as heartless, and with a malicious accuser as unscrupulous, as himself: let him be found guilty, and let his cry for mercy find no hearing”.

So this accuser and his followers used lies and false charges against David to bring him down and now lies and false charges are being used against him to bring his accuser down.

David’s prayer to God was just but what this accusers prayer for David’s condemnation was and rather than being delivered by his prayers David says may he be condemned by them.

Satan is constantly trying to destroy us according to the New Testament as we read in 1 Peter 5: 8,

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”.

But Peter assures us that if we are alert to the workings of Satan and stand firm in our faith we have nothing to fear from him as the next verse, verse 9 says,

“Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings”.

And James says in James 4: 7,

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”.

David continues his imprecatory prayer, which is a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to his enemies in verse 8 with a request for this leader of his enemies who is his chief accuser of false charges is not to have the blessing of a long life and in fact be killed or at least die so that someone else take his place of leadership,

“May his days be few; may another take his place of leadership”.

If David is speaking about King Saul then he is the one who would take the place of Saul as leader or king.

Interestingly it was the very real possibility that David would be the next king of Israel that drove a lot of the seemingly senseless rage towards David from Saul as Saul indicates to his son Jonathan after Jonathan helped save David from the murderous hand of his father. Saul’s words to his son Jonathan are recorded in 1 Samuel 20: 30 – 31,

“Saul’s anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, “You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don’t I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you? 31 As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send someone to bring him to me, for he must die!”

Saul saw the writing on the wall, so to speak and what he feared God was intending to do came to pass some years later.

So in the case of these words in verse 8 originating in Saul’s intension and now being used by David against Saul we have a clear example of Saul reaping what he sowed. What he wanted to happen to David eventually happened to him.

Let me remind you that Jesus himself does not recommend we pray for our enemies like this but he encourages us to seek to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us as we read earlier in Matthew 5: 44,

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”.

However if our enemies or those who persecute us do not turn to God and accept the love of God in Christ then they will reap what they sow and will face the judgment of God when they die as we Paul teaches in Galatians 6: 7 – 8,

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life”.

Before I leave this verse I must mention how the second part of verse 8,

“May another take his place of leadership”

Is quoted by Peter in Acts 1: 20 for scriptural authority for replacing Judas with another disciple as the twelfth apostle. Judas is an excellent example of a man caught up in this principle of “you reap what you sow”. He chose to betray The Lord Jesus Christ who loved him greatly because he was disappointed with the kind of Messiah Jesus turned out to be and maybe for material gain as well but once he fully realised what he had done he hung himself. So a disciple named Matthias took his leadership position but I believe the real God chosen twelfth apostle turned out to be a few years later non other than the Apostle Paul.

1. The accuser’s family’s judgment (vss. 9 – 10 and 13 – 15)

We come then to the most difficult verses of this Psalm to interpret as it deals with what seems the judgment of innocent children. I have already indicated that even in the ten commandments God speaks of the sins of the fathers impacting on not only their family’s but future generations of family’s as we saw in some of the wording of the second commandment, Exodus 20: 5,

“You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me”.

In the ancient Hebrew society that is much more community and family based the sins of the fathers had direct impact on their wives and children but in these verses in Psalm 109 David is praying that the leader of his enemies might not only suffer for his sin and rebellion but his wife and children also suffer that judgment as well.

Take the wording of verses 9 and 10,

“May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow.10 May his children be wandering beggars; may they be driven from their ruined homes”.

Some commentators have pointed out that in the context of the ancient Hebrew society the early death of the father of the home would have led to what David prays will happen to his family, which is, the children would be fatherless and his wife would be a widow and the prospects of the children living a normal blessed life very uncertain to say the least.

Before the coming of Christ the status and value of women and children was very low indeed and they were merely part of the goods and chattels of the man of the house but Jesus said things like we read about in Mathew 19: 14 – 15,

“Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” 15 When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there”.

Jesus spoke these words because people were bringing children to Jesus to be blessed by him but the disciples had the typical attitude of men of their day to children and sought to block children bothering the Lord Jesus Christ.

The other fact to keep in mind here is that the word children does not necessary say little children as in the case of the death of Saul his children were groan up like Jonathan who died in battle with his father. Then we have the stories of a surviving son of Saul, Ish- Bosheth and the crippled son of Jonathan named Mesphibisheth who David actually sought to help.

In the case of Saul’s surviving son Ish-Bosheth Davd punished the men who wilfully killed him 2 Samuel 4 and in the case of Jonathan’s surviving crippled son Mesphibisheth he looked after him with restoration of his family land and he also ate at the kings table (2 Samuel 9).

So David might have prayed that his ruthless enemy who led a campaign of false accusations and death threats against him be killed and his children be made destitute actually sought to show grace or undeserved love to what was left of the family of Saul.
This is the way of Christ, which is it is the way of love and compassion even on his enemies and after all everyone one of us were once his enemies before we came to him in faith as Paul clearly states in Romans 5: 6 – 8,

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Paul knew this all to well as he was the great enemy of the early church but Christ met him on the road to Damascus and turned him around to become the great Apostle Paul who helped thousands to come to Christ and through his writings in the New Testament millions more.

Then in Psalm 109 verses 13 – 15 we have a further imprecatory prayer, which is a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to his enemies relating to the chief accusers family and even includes his wife in verse 14,

“May his descendants be cut off, their names blotted out from the next generation.
14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the LORD; may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.
15 May their sins always remain before the LORD THAT he may blot out their name from the earth.

These words again could have been what David’s accusers prayed or wished on him so the, reap what you sow principle meant that they would be the recipients of this awful condemnation on their families.

Also the families of convicted criminals in ancient times did suffer greatly as they were considered “tared with the same brush” as the old saying goes. Again it is Jesus Christ and his Gospel message of the love of God that dramatically changed this and we find straight away in the early church the care for widows and their children in Acts 6 and then there is Pauls instructions for the churches Timothy was overseeing which include specific instructions to the care for widows and orphans in 1 Timothy 5: 3 – 10,

“Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. 5 The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. 6 But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7 Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame. 8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

9 No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband, 10 and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the Lord’s people, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds”.

In the case of this chief accuser it seems his wife, who would soon become a widow was a willing participant in her husbands lying deceitful words against David as the second half of verse 14 says,

“May the sin of his mother never be blotted out”.

This is the mother of the accusers children and she is said to have sinned or was part of the sin of her husbands lying deceitful words.

In the case of Psalm 109 the reap what you sow principle would have been very real for the accuser the enemy of David and God as his family would have became fatherless, with descendants cut off, names blotted out and memory lost from the earth. David’s name lived on but the positive identity of the accuser was lost forever.

2. The accuser’s judgment through his community (vss. 11 – 12)

Finally in this first part of this imprecatory prayer, which is a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to his enemies is the accusers fate in the community which he lived. We read of this in verses 11 – 12,

“May a creditor seize all he has; may strangers plunder the fruits of his labour. 12 May no one extend kindness to him or take pity on his fatherless children”.

Again all that these two verses speak of are but natural consequences of the death of a man who headed a family’s untimely death which verse 8 spoke of in a poetic form.

His creditors would seize all his assets, strangers who would plunder what he left behind to pay his outstanding debts and again his surviving family would struggle unless someone showed them charity and David obviously at the time of praying this prayer and recording it in a Psalm did not want this to happen.

However we have learnt that when David became king he showed charity to King Saul’s grandson Mesphibisheth whose father was Jonathan, Saul’s eldest son.
David had a deep friendship with Jonathan and as much as Jonathan could he supported his friend David even suffering the angry scorn of his father for doing so. So David might have prayed for this to happen but he left this in the hands of God who can and does say no to some of our prayers when that is the best thing for us and his glorious will.

The apostle Paul gives us an example of when God said no to his prayer he prayed as once he prayed at least 3 times for a physical aliment to be healed in 2 Corinthians 12: 8 – 9,

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me”.

So if David prayed for the total destruction of the family of Saul he in the end showed that he learnt that God said no to that as he after Saul’s death helped and proved for Saul’s grandson Mesphibisheth.

We must learn from this and particularly the example of Paul who said that when God said no to his prayer for some form of healing he learnt that, God’s,

“Grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”.

2. (16 – 20) Their curses turning on them

The second part of this imprecatory prayer, which is a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to his enemies is found in verses 16 – 20 and I have broken this second part down into two main ideas,

1. The accusers lack of compassion (vs. 16)
2. The accusers curses turning on them (vss. 17 – 20)

So lets have a closer look at each of these two ideas:

1. The accusers lack of compassion (vs. 16)

The man and his followers this imprecatory prayer is based on are not nice people in any way their attitude to others is both cold and unloving as verse 16 states,

“For he never thought of doing a kindness, but hounded to death the poor and the needy and the brokenhearted”.

I have heard of people today who act like this and their problem is that they are totally self- interested people who are only out to satisfy their own selfish interests. I had a job as a manger for only six months a number of years ago in a secular job and one of the things that helped cause me to quit was the manager I was responsible to wanted me to act in a ruthless unloving way to my staff to get the best out of them. I argued that my staff would respond far better to my directions if I showed them love and understanding but sadly I was written off as a soft and ineffective leader.

I am sorry but I must follow the example of Christ who was a loving servant leader and who showed us how we can and must show kindness particularly to the poor and needy brokenhearted people of this world.

We read these amazing words about the love and compassion of Jesus in Matthew 9: 36 – 37,

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Going back to Psalm 109 verse 16, these nasty Godless accusers instead of doing kindness simply hounded out death to the poor. There are people in this world right now who are suffering at the hands of such people and many of those are sincere believer in Christ but Jesus says pray for them and Psalm 109 says that if they don’t turn away from their wickedness such people will eventually reap what they sow which is judgment.

3. The accusers curses turning on them (vss. 17 – 20)

Then we come to the heart of what this Psalm has been presenting the reap what you sow principle for those who not only rebel against God but literally attack by word and deed his true and faithful followers.

The reap what you sow principle is no more clearer than it is in verse 17,

“He loved to pronounce a curse – may it come on him; he found no pleasure in blessing – may it be far from him”.

These accusers loved cursing good Godly men like David but the tables will be turned in God’s coming judgment as the curse they sowed for others will reap God’s curse on them. Even in this life history has told us bad wicked men and women have got their just deserts, I think of Adolf Hitler who ended up shooting himself in the mouth in a cold and damp bunker in war torn Berlin. I think of Pol Pot who it is believed committed suicide by taking poison in Cambodia in 1998 after he lead a regime that slaughtered millions of innocent people.

I could speak of many other enemies of God throughout history but one thing is certain even if these men seemed to have cheated justice for their massive crimes by committing suicide they will not escape the judgment of God as Paul says in Acts 17: 31,

“For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

Then in verses 18 – 19 David poetically describes this principle of reaping what you sow with these words,

“He wore cursing as his garment; it entered into his body like water, into his bones like oil. 19 May it be like a cloak wrapped about him, like a belt tied forever around him.

So ingrained is this sowing of cursing in these accusers that it is described as being like a garment or clothing they were wearing and like water that had soaked into their very inner being. We might say cursing was so ingrained in them it defined how people saw them. Spurgeon puts it this way,

“He was so openly in the habit of wishing ill to others that he seemed to wear robes of cursing, therefore let it be as his raiment girded and belted about him, yea, let it enter as water into his bowels, and search the very marrow of his bones like a penetrating oil. It is but common justice that he should receive a return for his malice, and receive it in kind, too”.

Then the reaping what you sow principle is spelt out in verse 20,

20 May this be the LORD’s payment to my accusers, to those who speak evil of me”.

Payment is another way of putting reaping or what you get or gain for your evil and wicked actions. This is the fate of all men and women without Christ, who do not turn to Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.

For without their sins paid for in Christ the “reap what you sow” principle will be a person’s fate. Let me share just three New Testament references to this.

First we have Mathew 12: 36 – 37,

“ But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. 37 For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

Then Luke 6: 37 – 38,

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

Finally those words of Paul in Galatians 6: 7 – 8,

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life”.

The final words of verse 8 offer the hope we will explore in the third and final section of this Psalm,

“Whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life”.

We will see how the principle of “you reap what you sow” has a God given new principle of hope and salvation based on God’s love or grace.

3. (21 – 31) SAVED BY GRACE

1. (21 – 29) Saved by grace

David has now completed his very at times heavy-handed imprecatory prayer, which is a prayer asking for God’s judgment to come to his enemies and now in the final section of this Psalm David establishes a new principle, which I will call, simply “saved by grace”.

I have broken this first part of the final section of this Psalm into three parts:

1. The principle of saved by grace (vs. 21)
2. The need to be saved by grace (vss. 22 – 25)
3. The principle of saved by grace applied (vss. 26 – 29)

Lets have a closer look at each of these three parts:

1. The principle of saved by grace (vs. 21)

This final section starts with that amazing little word “but” which appears so much in scriptures to link disaster and despair with hope and promise and it is no different here as Bob Deffinbaugh puts it,

“David asked for justice for his foes and now asks for mercy for himself”.

I think verse 21 and later verse 26 set down a different way for sinful man, namely the way of or the principal of “saved by grace”, verse 21 says,

“But you, O Sovereign Lord, deal well with me for your name’s sake; out of the goodness of your love deliver me”.

This is a wonderful verse that is saying so much and it has three key parts:

1. God’s Sovereignty
2. God’s Name
3. God’s love

Lets have a closer look at each of these:

1. God’s Sovereignty

Chip Ingram explains the idea that God is sovereign this way,

“The way I like to explain God’s sovereignty best is simply to say, “God is in control.” There is absolutely nothing that happens in the universe that is outside of God’s influence and authority. As King of kings and Lord of lords, God has no limitations”.

This is a hotly disputed concept that theologians for centuries have argued about but Chip Ingram goes on in his Internet article on the Sovereignty of God to quote 5 key bible references that illustrate that the bible clearly teaches this.

The 5 key bible references are: Rev. 1: 6, Colossians 1: 16, Romans 11: 33, Jeremiah 32: 17 and Psalm 103: 19.

I like the last one particularly so I will quote it here, Psalm 103: 19,

“The LORD has established his throne in heaven, and his kingdom rules over all”.

So when David says in verse 21,

“But you, O Sovereign Lord”

He is addressing himself to the one who rules over all and all includes everything, everyone and every situation. This, I believe is only disputed because life often shouts out at us that this is not true especially when evil seems to triumph over good but we must accept by faith that even in the worst of life’s fallen and messy situations God is still Sovereign and in control, faith that Paul expressed so well in Romans 8: 28,

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”.

I once heard or once read a story about the famous Bishop J.C Ryle and English Anglican Bishop of the 19th Century who after nursing his beloved wife to her painful death went to church the next day and was so overcome with emotion he simply held up to the congregation a large embroidered page mark the wrong way around. As he held the page marker he said to the congregation, “what you see is how I feel”, then he turned the embroidered page marker around to reveal the words, “God’s love”.

Sometimes when we go through difficult times the Sovereign love of God seems lost and even foolishness but like Bishop J.C Ryle accepted and claimed by faith, God is still in control and nothing can separate us from God’s love as he says in Romans 8: 38 – 39,

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

2. God’s Name

David spoke a lot about the name of God and in verse 21 he says this,

“Deal well with me for your name’s sake”

There is only one God but according to the bible he has many names just as he has three expressions of himself, which we call the Holy Trinity. The name’s of God and the name of God all represent the very character of God and his greatest characteristic we will learn in the life principle I call, “saved by grace” is love.
Grace is the special love of God, which is love he gives even though we don’t deserve it. God’s name then is God’s amazing character and as I said, David spoke a lot about the name of God. I did a study on the name of God in the Psalms of David and here are four highlights of that study:

1. Psalm 8: 1,

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth”.

God’s name is majestic and all of creation declares something of what he is like.

2. Psalm 9: 10,

“Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord have never forsaken those who seek you”

To know God is to know his name or what he is really like and if we know God he will never forsake us.

3. Psalm 29: 2

“Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness”.

The basis of all real worship is to declare the name or character of God and this worship because of the character of God is full of splendour and holiness.

4. Psalm 103: 1,

“Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name”.

I could have chosen many other verses like this from the Psalms of David where he praises the name of God often in song but he does it here from deep within his soul or being because David knew that the name or character of God was so wonderful.

David asks for God to deal with him according to his name because he had faith and confidence in the bibles revealed character of God that as he said in Psalm 9: 10, would never forsake him.

3. God’s love

The last aspect of this new principle of life, “saved by grace” is the very central characteristic of the God of the bible who David was turning to in verse 21 of Psalm 109. That central characteristic of God is expressed here in the words,

“Out of the goodness of your love, deliver me”.

David knew he did not deserve the love of God not less to deliver or save him as he says in another Psalm, Psalm 25: 6 – 7,

“Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. 7 Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, LORD, are good”.

David knew the only difference he had from his accusers was that he had learnt about the great God of love who if tuned to in repentance and faith and he would deliver him out of his mercy or grace, which is love that he or anyone did not deserve.

This then is the new principle of life so different that “reap what you sow” because it is because of God’s love we will not reap what we sow but we will rather be saved by grace”.

The New Testament makes this new principle of life even more- clearer because it presents how God has made this possible. The message is that we deserve death and in fact the reaping of sin or as Paul calls it in Romans 6: 23, the wages of sin is death,

“For the wages of sin is death”

Then Paul slips in one of those great examples of a “but” as the second half of Romans 6: 23 says,

“But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

You see our many sins reaps death and Jesus perfect life given as a sacrifice for our sins reaps eternal life for us for it paid the debt of our sin.

This is the greatest expression of God’s love or better still “Grace” because this love of God is undeserved by us but freely given by God as Paul says in Ephesians 2: 4 – 6,

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus”.

So we have this new principle of life, saved by grace even though we all deserve to reap what we so but we must turn back to God in repentance and accept this free gift of love by faith and seek to live by this God given new principle of life, “saved by grace”.

2. The need to be saved by grace (vss. 22 – 25)

David then gives us four verses that describe why he needs to be “saved by grace” and these verses describe a man poetically with deep needs that only the grace of God can help.

I see actually six poetic pictures of a man in need:

1. Poor and needy (vs. 22a)
2. Wounded in heart (vs. 22b)
3. Fading away like a shadow (vs. 23a)
4. Shaken off like a insect (vs. 23b)
5. Weakened body from not eating (vs. 24)
6. Object of scorn (vs. 25)

Lets have a quick look at each of these six poetic pictures of a man in need of the grace of God.

1. Poor and needy (vs. 22a)

The first poetic picture David uses is that of a man very poor and in need,

“For I am poor and needy”

The idea of being poor has been used by David before to describe his state before God in Psalm 34: 6,

“This poor man called, and the Lord heard him, he saved him out of all his troubles”.

We know that David wrote Psalm 34 when he was trapped for a time in a Philistine city called Gath and Saul was heading to Gath to kill him as the Hebrew heading tells us David wrote this when he was caused to act insane before the king of Gath called Abimelech.

David, when he became king of Israel would have been a very rich man but even if this Psalm was written when David had become the king of Israel I don’t think this image of being poor and needy is speaking about his financial status.

No, David’s inability to survive the attacks of his enemies trusting in his own earthly resources was very inadequate making him poor and needy just like our ability to save ourselves from reaping what we sow, namely sin and judgment is totally inadequate making us all poor and needy no matter what our financial status is.

We like David need to be saved by grace, which Paul goes on to point out in Ephesians 2, where he writes in verse 8 – 9,

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast”.

2. Wounded in heart (vs. 22b)

David always ready to open to God in prayer then gives us the second poetic picture of his need to be saved by grace in the words of the second half of verse 22 that says,

“And my heart is wounded within me”.

Albert Barnes fleshes out and explains the meaning of this poetic picture with these words,

“I am as one that is prostrated by a weapon – as if my heart had been pierced. I have no courage, no strength. I am like one who lies wounded on a battlefield”.

This expression of David would have been very real to him as he was a great warrior and soldier and he would have seen many men “wounded”, he himself could have suffered some kind of battle field wound, we do not know but in the face of the great opposition he faced in the war of words he felt in himself totally inadequate and he needed God’s help, he needed to be saved by grace.

We too face mighty forces of evil as Paul reveals to us in Ephesians 6: 12

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.

So we in ourselves have no real resources in the spiritual battles of life and often through falling to sin find that we have a wounded heart but Paul gives us the answer to this spiritual dilemma in the two verses before Ephesians 6: 12, verses 10 – 11,

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes”.

We need then to be saved by grace, we need God’s strong and mighty power and love to stand the slings and arrows of the evil one.

3. Fading away like a shadow (vs. 23a)

The war of words David is caught up in at the time of writing this Psalm has taken a big toll on his mind, body and soul and verse 23 either figuratively or actually has effected him deeply as vs. 23a says,

“I fade away like an evening shadow”

David is saying the effects of the war of words was making him feel like his life was wasting away such is the pressure criticism and verbal persecution can have on a person. I said this war of words might have taken a toll on his body actually because David could have written this in the years when he was on the run from King Saul and we read in the book of 1 Samuel how David and some of his loyal followers were out in wilderness areas for possibly weeks with little food and water and this would caused him to physically waste away like a shadow.

Paul experienced on many occasions the effects of persecution for his faith and ministry for Christ but he tells us amazingly in Philippians 4: 10 – 12, how he was rejoicing in his suffering and in want or plenty he had learned the secret of being content,

“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want”.

So what is Paul’s secret of being content in all circumstances?

Paul tells us the answer to this important question in verse 13,

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength”.

Such is the wonderful power of being saved by grace because it links up to a great spiritual power source namely The Lord Jesus Christ who says this to us all in Matthew 11: 28 – 30,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

4. Shaken off like a insect (vs. 23b)

David then uses an interesting poetic description of how he feels when he is under verbal attack from his accusers in the second half of verse 23,

“I am shaken off like locusts”

Albert Barnes explanation is helpful and interesting,

“I am tossed up and down as the locust – Agitated, moved, driven about, as a cloud of locusts is by the wind. The meaning of the whole is, that he was frail and weak, and needed strength from on high”.

I got another way of possibly thinking of what David was saying here and that comes from my Australian experience of insects attacking you like wretched flies that when they land on you, you just simply shake or wave them off. Maybe David is saying I feel like an insect like a locust landing on a person and when I land I am shaken or waved away.

Particularly when David was on the run from king Saul he had to flee constantly from danger and either like a swarm of locusts driven around by the wind or an insect being pushed or waved away from our bodies David was constantly on the run needing God’s help and protection.

But God continually delivered or saved David again not because he deserved to be delivered or saved but purely because he knew the love or grace of God as he says in Psalm 57: 3,

“He sends from heaven and saves me, rebuking those who hotly pursue me— God sends forth his love and his faithfulness”.

If we would but turn to Christ every day and in every situation we, like David will know what it means to be saved by grace as Paul says in his prayer for the Thessalonians in 2 Thessalonians 2: 16 – 17,

“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word”.

5. Weakened body from not eating (vs. 24)

Verse 24, if it is a literal description of David’s physical state at the time of writing fits perfectly in the time of his eight year’s of being on the run from King Saul because he would have suffered hunger causing his body to weaken at various times during those eight years or so when he was on the run for his life,

“My knees give way from fasting; my body is thin and gaunt”.

Even if this was written when he was the established king of Israel but still was under attack from enemies like his own son Absalom later in his reign he could have weakened his body through self imposed fasting in prayer as this verse could also indicate. Spurgeon makes this interesting observation on this,

“He was wasted to a skeleton, and as his body was emaciated, so was his soul bereft of comfort: he was pining away, and all the while his enemies saw it and laughed at his distress. How pathetically he states his case; this is one of the truest forms of prayer, the setting forth of our sorrow before the Lord. Weak knees are strong with God, and failing flesh has great power in pleading”.

We saw earlier that Paul once prayed three times for some kind of bodily ailment to leave him but God said no to Paul’s prayer and in that, “no” answer from God Paul learnt a great lesson about the grace of God, that reference is 2 Corinthians 12: 8 – 9,

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me”.

Being saved by grace as a principle in our lives does not mean we wont suffer or go through difficult times but it does mean that as verse 9 says, God’s,

“Grace is sufficient for you, for (God’s) power is made perfect in weakness”.

David is also learning this as he pray in verse 21,

“But you, O Sovereign Lord, deal well with me for your name’s sake; out of the goodness of your love deliver me”.

God dealing with us by his grace or unmerited love means that he will be with us, helping us and saving us even in difficult times.

6. Object of scorn (vs. 25)

The final reason that David gives for why he needed to be saved by grace is how his enemies and accusers treated him when they saw him in his weakened and needy state as David expresses in verse 25,

“I am an object of scorn to my accusers; when they see me, they shake their heads”

A number of Psalms speak of David’s difficulties brought about by the taunts and vicious words of his enemies like Psalm 22: 6 – 7,

“But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads”.

These words in Psalm 22 and many other verses in that Psalm are an accurate prophecy of what Christ endured on the cross. Jesus Christ endured all through his ministry taunts and vicious verbal abuse by his enemies of his day and particularly on the cross when many people and particularly the religious leaders of that day rejected Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God and hurled insults at Jesus and shook their heads in disrespect as Jesus physically suffered in agony while he hung upon the cross.

Listen to Matthews account of this in Matthew 27: 39 – 44,

“Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him”.

It is good for us to remember that Jesus endured this almost unbearable suffering so that we could be saved by grace as Paul speaks of to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1: 8 – 12,

“So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 9 He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. 11 And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. 12 That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day”.

3. The principle of saved by grace applied (vss. 26 – 29)

Once David had appealed to the grace of God to deliver him from his current situation in the previous five verses he now applies the saved by grace principle to his current situation brought about by his enemies and accusers who where living not by the grace of God but were living by the principle of life God had laid down for those who oppose and rebel against him, reap what you sow.
I have broken this application of the saved by grace of God in the life David at the time of his writing this Psalm into three parts:

1. Saved by grace applied (vs. 26)
2. Saved by grace revealed to God’s enemies (vs. 27)
3. Saved by grace working out in David and his enemies (vs. 28 – 29)

Lets have a closer look at each of these three parts to the saved by grace principle being applied to David and his enemies.

1. Saved by grace applied (vs. 26)

Verse 26 like verse 21 states clearly David’s understanding of how he is delivered or saved by grace,

“Help me, O Lord my God; save me In accordance with your love”.

Note that David is not appealing to his good character or righteous life but he is appealing to the love of God a love he did not deserve so I am giving that love its New Testament name of “Grace”.

The famous minister and hymn writer of the eighteenth century was a man who certainly did not deserve in any way the salvation of God as he was a ruthless, God hating foul mouthed slave trader. Yet God brought John Newton to his knees one night in a storm at sea so violent he tied himself to the wheel of the ship to somehow try and steer it.

John Newton cried out to the God who he said he did not believe in for so many years but he said years later he did not believe that if God were there he would save a terrible sinner like him. However when all seemed lost the storm passed on and John Newton and his ship were saved.

John Newton then started reading his bible to learn of how we are not saved by our good works but by the grace of God and years later John Newton wrote the famous hymn “Amazing Grace” which the first verse tells the story of John Newtons discovery of the God given principle of new life we are calling in the Psalm talk, “Saved by Grace”.

Amazing grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see.

David applies this love or grace of God to his desperate situation asking God to save him by grace and not by anything else. Again I remind you what the apostle Paul says about how we are saved by grace alone in Ephesians 2: 8 – 9,

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast”.

2. Saved by grace revealed to God’s enemies (vs. 27)

David then in his application of the saved by grace principle which he knew and lived by then asks that his enemies or accusers be made aware I what he trusted in,

“Let them know that it is your hand, that you, O Lord, have done it”.

David is asking God to reveal to his enemies that he has been saved by God’s hand which he twice previously said that was through the love of God, a love he did not deserve so a love the New Testament coined, “Grace”.

David Guzik’s comments on this verse is very helpful as he writes,

“It was very important to David that his enemies and all who looked on him knew that his rescue was from God’s hand that the Lord had done it. He didn’t want deliverance only for his own sake, but also for the glory of God”.

Paul always sought to not present himself but rather the saving grace of God in Christ which he makes clear to the church in Corinth in 2 Corinthians 4: 4 – 8,

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

5 For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness, ”made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.”.

Later in the chapter he makes direct reference to God’s saving grace and how it is priority of his preaching and teaching in 2 Corinthians 4: 15,

“All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God:,

So both David and Paul wanted the glory of their salvation to go to God and particularly his message of being saved by grace.

3. Saved by grace working out in David and his enemies (vs. 28 – 29)

David concludes his application of the saved by grace principle by spelling out how saved by grace as opposed to reap what you sow plays its way out in him compared to his unbelieving wicked enemies or accusers in verse 28 and 29 which say,

“While they curse, may you bless; may those who attack me be put to shame, but may your servant rejoice.29 May my accusers be clothed with disgrace and wrapped in shame as in a cloak”.

Because of David being saved by grace he will be blessed even though his enemies curse and those who attack him verbally will be defeated by his God and put to shame, as they will reap what they sowed and David will be saved by grace. Finally his accusers will reap what they sow in God’s judgment and they will appear before God as though wearing clothes of disgrace and shame.

I like the pulpit commentaries explanation of verse 29,

“Instead of the “cursing” (verse 18) with which the wicked delighted to clothe themselves, they shall be forced to wear a covering of shame and confusion of face”.

David sees the end game or where the two ways of living lead to as his end is God’s blessing as he is saved by grace and his enemies or accusers will reap what they sow, they curse so they will be cursed, they accuse so they will be accused and they seek to disgrace so they will be disgraced by God as though they are wrapped in shame.

The apostle John saw the final judgment of God in his vision of Heaven called “The Revelation” this way in Revelation 20: 11 – 15,

“Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. 14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire”.

Note how this reference speaks of how the judgment will be carried out, each person will be judged according to what they had done or they will reap what they sowed in life.

Paul speaks of how saved by grace works for those who put their faith in it in Titus 2: 11 – 14,

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good”,

So Revelation 20 – 11 – 15 shows us the end of the way of reap what you sow but Titus 2: 11 – 14 shows us the way saved by grace works its way out in its believers lives which will end in God’s glorious beginning as God’s purified people that will live with him forever.

2.   (30 – 31) Praising God for his love

Like most of the lament Psalms (Psalms that bring complaints, anxiety, despair and sometimes protest’s to God in prayer) it finishes with a word of praise and David’s final two verses contain two wonderful ideas:

1. A promise of great praise in the meeting of God’s people (vs. 30)
2. A statement of the main content of his promised praise (vs. 31)

Lets have a close look at these two final wonderful ideas:

1. A promise of great praise in the meeting of God’s people (vs. 30)

David in verse 30 makes a very strong promise or commitment to praise God in the worship meetings of his people,

“With my mouth I will greatly extol the Lord; in the great throng I will praise him”.

David Guzik points out,

“The Psalm began with addressing the God of my praise, it ends with the confidence and the vow that the singer will yet praise him”.

This promise of praise is one of the strongest commitment to praise yet seen in the book of Psalms and David wants to do this great word of verbal praise in the company of his fellow believers, which he calls “the great throng”.

David often ends his psalms with praise and even a promise to praise God like Psalm 63: 11,

“But the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by God’s name will praise him, while the mouths of liars will be silenced”.

Paul also encouraged and instructed many New Testament churches to continually praise the Lord like Philippians 4: 4,

“Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again Rejoice”.

To the church in Thessalonica he said that praise or giving thanks to God is God’s will for all believers, 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18,

“Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”.

The all circumstances includes when we are going through difficulties like persecution like David was going through when he wrote Psalm 109. I have heard that some of the most persecuted churches in the world when they gather give great praise to God because it seems in the great trials of persecution Christians are forced to rely on the Lord Jesus Christ and his presence then is so real and close to them they are filled with the joy of the Lord and praise him.

2. A statement of the main content of his promised praise (vs. 31)

David now finishes the Psalm with a statement of the main content of the praise he has just promised to praise in the assembly of his fellow believers, which we call today as Christians, the Church.

David’s statement of the content of his promised praise is,

“For he stands at the right hand of the needy one, to save his life from those who condemn him”.

This is a statement that echo’s the idea that those who turn to God, those who know they need him are saved by grace. God stands close to those who are saved by grace, in fact he is at their right hand, which is the promise of a trusted helper that has become the colloquial expression, “Right hand man”.

For those saved are no longer judged by reap what you sow but God saves their lives, as we have seen in this Psalm by his love. They, therefore don’t deserve to avoid the reap what you sow judgment principle but we know because of what Christ did for us on the cross we are forgiven of the sins we sowed throughout our lives and are made righteous by the death and resurrection of Christ as Paul declares in Romans 5: 17,

“For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!”

And Romans 4: 25,

“He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification”.

However for the enemies of God who oppose his Gospel message, the message of saved by grace and those who believe it God will treat them with his judgment principle of “Reap what you sow” as the final words of the Psalm indicate,

“Save his life from those who condemn him”.

David is saying God will save him from his accusers who condemned him with their words and deeds but God will save him from them and in doing that will condemn them.

The last words of this Psalm has been translated in other translations of the bible as:

“Those who judge the soul”.

With this in mind the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges makes this final telling statement,

“The wicked man is to be found guilty, as he deserves, while his victim will be saved from the persecutors who are minded to judge his soul, i.e. condemn him to death”.

So David’s accusers will reap what they sow, condemnation while he by faith in the God of Love will be saved by grace.

I close as usual with my own original poem and a closing prayer.

REAP WHAT YOU SOW OR SAVE BY GRACE
(Based on Psalm 109)

Chorus:
Reap, reap, reap what you sow
Or be save by grace
Are the only two ways to go.
Trust, trust, trust in the Lord
For Jesus has saved us
And given us his word.

O God who I do praise
Don’t be silent to me
For wicked men seek my life.
They attack me with evil words you see.
They pay good with evil intent
I offer them friendship
They treat it with contempt.
So may they sow the evil they plan
And reap what they sow on the judgment day
When before the Lord they will stand.
Chorus:

I plead with you O Lord
That your enemies will be
Unsuccessful in their lives.
They attack my life and my family
They want us to be blotted out.
They never offer kindness
They just turn the poor out.
So may the curses they wish on me
Be the curses they face on judgment day
When God’s judgment seat they will see.

Chorus:

O Sovereign Lord above
Deliver me with your love
So that your name will be great
And all mankind will look above.
For I have such a desperate need
My soul and my body fails
So to you O Lord I do plead
May your grace save me O Lord.
May my enemies see how great you are
And turn and trust in your word.

Chorus:

With my mouth I’ll praise you O Lord
With your people gathered O Lord
I will praise your amazing love
Found in the pages of your word.
You sent Jesus to die for us
He paid for sin on the cross
And all we have to do is trust.
One day Jesus will return
When we will rise to live with him
But God’s enemies sadly will burn.

Chorus:

By: Jim Wenman

Prayer:

Dear Lord help me when I face opposition from your enemies who seek to bring you down by bringing me down. May I show your love which your Son wants me to show our enemies when they persecute me. Help me to trust in you in your Sovereign and amazing love for my salvation and may the message of your grace become known by those who do not know you so they will not reap what they sow but be saved by grace alone. In Jesus name I pray Amen.

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