PSALM 64 TALK: DELIVERANCE FROM EVIL FORCES

PSALM 64 TALK: DELIVERANCE FROM EVIL FORCES

(A Psalm that explores the evil and powerful forces the people of God face and what God’s response is to them.)

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INTRODUCTION

Recently I helped lead the singing of hymns for a service in my church, which took place the day after ANZAC day. ANZAC day is a special day of remembrance for Australian and New Zealanders to remember those who gave their lives in wars since 25th April 1915 the day of the disastrous landing at Gallipoli located on the Dardanelles strait. During the Gallipoli campaign 8,000 Australians were killed and over 2,000 New Zealanders where killed and many more were injured. Even though both Australia and New Zealand lost far more men on the western front in France the failed campaign of Gallipoli became the first time both countries were involved in a major war and therefore this is used to remember the great loss of life for Australians and New Zealanders in war ever since.

The service was a service where we reflected on the contributions of Australians who lost their lives in war. All of the hymns on this day had the theme of the Christian battle with evil and I asked the organist why she didn’t include the hymn “Onward Christian Soldiers” she said she thought we could miss understand why our soldiers went to war thinking that our soldiers went to war to fight for Christ or God so she decided not to use it.

Onward Christian Soldiers has been wrongfully used as an anthem for Christian militarism but why it is not that is answered by two facts. The first is why the author Rev. Sabine Baring – Gould wrote the hymn (1865) and the second is what the hymn actually says. Gould famously said this about the hymns composition,

“It was written in a very simple fashion. Whit-Monday is a great day for school festivals in Yorkshire, and one Whit-Monday it was arranged that our school should join its forces with that of a neighboring village. I wanted the children to sing when marching from one village to the other, but couldn’t think of anything quite suitable, so I sat up at night resolved to write something myself. “Onward, Christian Soldiers” was the result. It was written in great haste, and I am afraid some of the rhymes are faulty. Certainly nothing has surprised me more than its great popularity”.

The first verse and chorus of the hymn goes like this,

Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war

With the cross of Jesus going on before:

Christ the royal Master leads against the foe;

Forward into battle, see, his banner go.

 

Chorus:

 

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war.

With the cross of Jesus going on before!

 

The idea that Christians are soldiers going into a great spiritual war comes from two well-known passages of scripture and the first is, 2 Timothy 2: 3,

“Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus”.

And the second is,

Ephesians 6: 10 -12,

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

Six years after the hymn was written the famous composer, Arthur Sullivan of Gilbert and Sullivan fame wrote the tune he called, “St. Gertrude” that we all know now so well and the popularity of the hymn was assured for generations to come.

Onward Christian Soldiers serves for me as a good introduction and backdrop to my understanding of the message of Psalm 64. This Psalm not only followers Psalm 63 but also acts as a great complementary Psalm to it. This is explained well by Derek Kidner when he writes,

“Psalm 63 was focused on God, with the enemy on the edges of the picture, here (Psalm 64) the composition is reversed, although the outcome is the same”.

We saw that Psalm 63 was written in the context of the Absalom rebellion but we cannot be sure if this Psalm was written at that same time. It was either written around this time or was written by David later when he reflected on events in his life like the Absalom rebellion.

I have said a number of times that the theme of the conflict between God’s enemies and the rule of David as king of Israel lies behind many of the Psalms of David in both book 1 and 2 of the Psalms. Psalm 2: 2 sets up the continual conflict David would face throughout his whole life once he was anointed King by the prophet Samuel in 1 Samuel 16 when Saul was still king of Israel.

Psalm 2: 2 says,

“The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed one”.

This opposition from the rival forces of evil extended to opposition from within Israel and also from his own family in the form of the rebellion of Absalom.

In Psalm 64 David focuses on these evil forces. He calls on God for help when facing his enemies and goes on to explain what these evil people are like, how God responds to them and how the world and believers should respond to that response of God. With is mind I have broken down the structure of the Psalm as:

1. THE CALL FOR DELIVERANCE FROM EVIL FORCES (vs. )

2. THE DESCRIPTION OF THESE EVIL FORCES (2 – 6)

3. THE RESPONSE OF GOD TO THESE EVIL FORCES (7 – 8)

4. THE RESPONSE OF THE WORLD AND BELIEVERS TO GOD’S RESPONSE TO THESE     EVIL FORCES (9 – 10)

I will be relating the issues David raises in this Psalm to the spiritual battle we as Christians face as Paul put it in both Ephesians 6: 10 – 12 and in 2 Timothy 2:3, where he says along with 1 Timothy 6: 12, “like a good soldier of Christ Jesus” we must fight the good fight of faith in God’s strength.

Two other Psalm talks you can refer to where these same issues are raised are Psalm 20 and Psalm 35.

  1. THE CALL FOR DELIVERANCE FROM EVIL FORCES (vs. 1)

I have broken this call into two parts:

  1. The call (1a)
  2. The calls request (1b)
  1. The Call (1a)

First of all the call itself, which says,

“Hear me, O God, as I voice my complaint”.

This does sound like a real and desperate prayer prayed by David as he faced great danger and difficulty, which again fits well into the context of his flight from Jerusalem during the rebellion of Absalom.

David is not making a silent prayer as he speaks of God hearing his voice. This is not to say that silent prayers are not as effective as audible ones. I’m sure David prayed many silent prayers but he seems more like a man who did not hold back his emotions and thoughts during his long life.

I like the story Michal a daughter of Saul’s reaction to David’s outward showing of emotion during the procession of the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem early in David’s reign as king. We read in 2 Samuel 6: 16,

“As the Ark of the Lord was entering the city of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart”.

After copping a criticism from Michal for what she saw as a disgraceful piece of exhibitionism, David says this to her in 2 Samuel 6: 21 – 22,

“It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes”.

So in Psalm 64 verse 1a David calls out to the Lord for help and he shows us again what we need to do when we face difficulty in our lives particularly the difficulty caused by the attack of evil forces, we must call out to God in prayer.

At the end of Paul’s famous passage on putting on the armour of God in Ephesians 6, Paul says this in verse 18,

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people”.

I’m sure Paul includes both silent and audible prayer hear and what he is saying is that you cannot fight the great battle of faith against the Devil and his powerful forces in your own strength but you need God’s help and power provided for you through prayer inspired in you by God’s Holy Spirit.

David adds to his call for help the word, “complaint”, which Derek Kidner has an interesting insight into what David really means when he uses this word complaint. He writes,

“Basically it is a man’s musing on his situation whether good (Psalm 104: 34) or bad (Job 10:1)”

David here then is focusing his prayer on his desperate situation and asking God to give him an answer. Jesus always seemed to look for evidence of real faith in those who came to him for help and Paul again in Ephesians 6: 16, says this about faith and fighting the evil forces we will face in this world,

“In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one”.

  1. The calls request (1b)

Now lets look at the actual request of this earnest and desperate prayer of David,

“Protect my life from the threat of the enemy”.

Again the actual request sounds like the sort of thing David would have prayed while on the run from Saul or his very own son Absalom. It is a prayer for deliverance from the evil forces David faced at this time. But remember David faced some kind of attacks from evil forces all his life and so do we. David always needed God’s protection and deliverance.

I must remind you again what Paul said about the Spiritual battle we are in and the kind of evil forces we all face in this life in Ephesians 6: 10 -12,

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

I often here of how this battle plays out in the lives of Christians today particularly in countries where Christians face constant persecution for their faith. We face these forces in a different way then they do but let me tell you the Devil has many tactics he can employ to attack the faith we hold. We must be on our guard because the tactics Satan might use for us could involve using people who seem to be doing good or preaching God’s word when their real intention is to pull us away from doing good and following God’s word as Paul speaks about in 2 Corinthians 11: 14 – 15,

“And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve”.

 The best advice I can give is to test all things by the word of God which is what I think Paul is saying in 1 Thessalonians 5: 19 – 22,

“Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil”.

So when we realise that false teaching is being taught we must do what David did when he faced the evil forces of his time commit it to God in prayer seeking God’s protection and deliverance from this attack of the Devil and his evil forces.

  1. THE DESCRIPTION OF THESE EVIL FORCES (2 – 6)

This is such an important section so I have broken it down with headings for almost every verse:

  1. The evil forces described in general (vs. 2)
  2. The evil forces weapons (vs. 3)
  3. The evil forces methods (vs. 4)
  4. The evil forces false assumptions (vs’s 5 – 6a)
  5. The evil forces inspiration (6b)
  1. The evil forces described in general (vs. 2)

 David now turns to more specific prayer request concerning his enemies and in the process describes what they were like and sought to do to him. He starts this with a general description of them in verse 2,

“Hide me from the conspiracy of the wicked, from that noisy crowd of evildoers”.

 In Barnes famous notes on the bible he writes,

The idea is, protect me; guard me; make me safe – as one is who is hidden or concealed so that his enemies cannot find him”.

 This kind of interpretation would fit beautifully in the time David was on the run from Absalom because Absalom conducted a ruthless conspiracy against his Father David and his good name and then sought to kill him once he had gained the allegiance of most of the people of Israel. When David was on the run initially he needed to hide from his Son and his large force of men to be able to survive those tenuous first few days of fleeing from them.

We too need the Lord’s help to be hidden or sheltered from the possible attacks of evil forces. I did a study on the verses in the bible of the nature and tactics of Satan and his evil forces before I started this Psalm talk and one of the verses I came across was the famous John 10: 10 in which Jesus compares what his purposes are compared to that of the Devil and of course the evil forces that follow him,

“The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have to the full”.

 In Jesus day one form of the “thief” was the respected religious leaders of his day and this must make us wary of even those who call themselves religious leaders today as even some of these can be wolves in sheep clothing.

Interestingly towards the end of John 10 Jesus promises to hide or protect us from the evil forces of this world in John 10: 27 – 30,

 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

 In the final description of the evil forces David faced he says this about them,

“That noisy crowd of evildoers”

 Barnes says this about David’s description of the evil forces he faced,

“The allusion is to such a crowd, such a disorderly and violent rabble, as constituted a mob. He was in danger not only from the secret purposes of the more calm and thoughtful of his enemies who were plotting against him, but from the excited passions of the multitude, and thus his life was in double danger”.

When Jesus stood before the Roman Governor Pilot the Jewish religious leaders inspired by Satan himself excited the noisy mob to cry crucify him. Jesus now seemed in the hands of evil forces but Jesus made it clear back in John 10: 17 and 18, that

“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again.” No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

  1. The evil forces weapons (vs. 3)

 From this general description of the evil forces David faced he moves in verse 3 to a description of the weapons they were using against him,

“They sharpen their tongues like swords and aim their words like deadly arrows”.

 In two previous Psalm Talks I sought to open up David’s teaching on the power and miss use of the tongue or of speech that he faced from his enemies in my Psalm Talk on Psalm 12 and the problem even David had with his own miss use of his tongue that led to sin his life in my Psalm talk on Psalm 39.

Here he merely states that the major weapon his enemies used against him was their evil tongue. David faced the evil tongue of Saul and his followers, of the kings of the neighbouring nations, of Absalom his rebellious son and from many other evil forces within Israel. He could fight off those who came at him with swords or even doge arrows and spears aimed at him but he was often defenceless against the sharp tongues and words that were fired at him throughout his life.

Spurgeon eloquently says this about this verse,

“Slander has ever been the master weapon of the good man’s enemies, and great is the care of the malicious to use it effectively.

As warriors grind their swords, to give them an edge which will cut deep and wound desperately, so do the unscrupulous invent falsehoods which shall be calculated to inflict pain, to stab the reputation, to kill the honour of the righteous”.

 Christians often face unscrupulous verbal attacks from evil forces in the world today and the Christian church seems to many, particularly the media, an easy target to attack and slander with often little evidence of wrongdoing.

Paul had lots of these attacks even from within the church and one of his letters, 2 Corinthians is written mainly to counter some of these verbal attacks he suffered from men who opposed him in the church in Corinth. In chapters 10 and 11 of 2 Corinthians Paul seeks to counter the verbal attacks from the people he calls “false apostles” in 2 Corinthians 11: 13. These false apostles were speaking badly about Paul when he was absent from the church in Corinth on further missionary work and Paul makes it clear in his letter what these men are actually doing and who they are really are like and what God will eventually do with them in 2 Corinthians 11: 13 – 14,

“For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve”.

We must not be surprised when we face verbal attacks from evil forces today but simply follow theexcellent advice of Peter in 1 Peter 3: 13 – 17,

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened. But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil”.

  1. The evil forces methods (vs. 4)

 From the weapons of the evil forces David faced David moves on to their methods in verse 4,

“They shoot from ambush at the innocent man; they shoot at him suddenly, without fear”.

 David who is a brave and honest soldier or warrior king would have found this back stabbing war of words frustrating and difficult to handle. David would have preferred to fight out in the open with his sword then to try and fight an enemy who used deceitful words to harm him. Barnes makes the point that,

“It was not an open and manly fight, where he could see his enemy, but it was a warfare with a concealed foe”.

 Absalom in 2 Samuel 15 undermines his father’s rule with deceitful words and innuendoes that eventually lead to the overthrow of his father as king and he did it without shooting an arrow or wielding a sword. David was ambushed by his son’s deceitful words.

More damage has been done to the church by words then bombs or any other kind of force to try and destroy it. Paul spoke for the last time to the elders of the church of Ephesus on his way to Jerusalem where he was arrested and sent to Rome and in Acts 20: 28 – 31 a warning against the attack of words from within the church that would come in the days ahead, he writes,

“Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears”.

I have sadly attended an occasional church in the past where the preacher or minister has not presented a message based on the word of God and I have felt both anger and sadness. Anger that the word of God was not being preached and some other false message was being presented and sadness for the people of that church who were being cheated out of God’s life giving word.

In one church I attended a coupe of years ago the preachers topic was why is the church dying today and what can we do about it. I felt like yelling out “Preach the word of God” but as I listened I knew even that plain simple message would fall on closed ears and dead hearts.

We must heed the words of advice of Paul to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4: 2 – 5,

“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.  But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry”.

 Those who attack the word of God within the church today do it often without fear of reprisal because the theological colleges they were taught in encourage this and their church hierarchy over them thinks the same as they do. Fortunately the church I belong to does not tolerate anything other than the preaching of the word of God and for that I give praise to God constantly. However for Christian friends of mine in other areas of my country suffer from the watering down of the word of God. Interestingly the few churches that do preach the word of God in towns and cities of my country are the churches where life and vitality exists in their congregations.

  1. The evil forces miss false assumptions (vs’s 5 – 6a)

 From the evil forces methods David moves to the evil forces he faced often miss conceptions, which we find in verse 5 and the first part of verse 6,

“They encourage each other in evil plans, they talk about hiding their snares; they say, “Who will see them? They plot injustice and say, ‘we have devised a perfect plan”.

 There are three miss conceptions stated here:

  1. Working together for evil will not guarantee success for the evil forces we face.
  2. Deception will not guarantee success for the evil forces we face.
  3. The best of plans will not guarantee success for the evil forces we face.
  1. Working together for evil will not guarantee success for the evil forces we face.

If this Psalm was written during the time of the Absalom rebellion or after it, thinking back to it then this false assumption that a great number of evil men working together to defeat David and in doing so God fits well to this context. I mentioned how Absalom fought a successful war of words to oust his father from the throne and he must have thought that with his large number of followers he would be successful in destroying David and the faith in God he promoted.

This is what I think David is referring to in the words in verse 5 that says,

“They encourage each other in evil plans”.

They falsely believed that if they stuck together and continued to work together against David, the Lords anointed king then they would be successful in destroying him.

As Christians, I believe we will never be in the majority in the world we live in and this is spoken of and explained why by Jesus in Matthew 7: 13 – 14,

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”.

Using Jesus image of the road we can visualise the big and wide road the non believers are walking down and Jesus is saying the road we walk on is narrow compared to the wide road and few are those who find it or walk on it.

I would like to take this analogy a bit further and say that the way of the non believer and therefore the way of evil forces is going away from God but those who have repented and put their faith in Christ are waling the other way towards God. This means we will look like we are going the wrong way because the majority of people are going the opposite way to us.

It has been quite common for people to believe today that because the majority believe something then it must be right, We take the concept of a democracy of the majority rules to far as just because most people deny or simply don’t believe in God does not mean he doesn’t exist.

So atheists or anyone who opposes God and his Gospel message might have the false assumption that because they gang up together and encourage each other in their evil plans they will be successful.

The Jews of Jesus day ganged together and encouraged each other to come up with the evil plan to do away with Jesus but as Revelation 1: 7 declares,

“Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him even those who pieced him; and all the Peoples of the earth will mourn because of him”.

  1. Deception will not guarantee success for the evil forces we face

The next false assumption the evil forces that oppose God have is found in the next two phrases of verse 5,

“They talk about hiding their snares; they say, ‘who will see them”.

The snares are the animal traps people set in David’s time to catch out their prey by hiding the trap. I like again Barnes comment on these two phrases,

“They sought to make the plan so secret that no one could discover it, or even suspect it; to keep it so concealed that he for whom it was intended could not be put on his guard”.

The false assumption of the wicked here is that they thought they could be successful in destroying David and the faith in God he promoted by their clever deception. After all Absalom deception so far had turned most of Israel against his father David so why would it fail to finish off David out there in the wilderness of northern Judah?

As we have seen in most of the Psalms of David in books one and two that those who opposed David, the Lords anointed opposed God as Psalm 2: 2 says,

“The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed one”.

We can see from Jesus words to Saul who became Paul when he was knocked to the ground when riding to Damascus in Acts 9: 5, that Saul was not persecuting just people who called themselves Christians but he was opposing and persecuting Jesus himself,

“I am Jesus whom you are persecuting”.

So when we are opposed and attacked by evil forces not only are they opposing and attacking us but they are opposing and attacking Jesus as well.

The false assumption then is even the most cunning and well thought out deceptive plans of evil forces will not defeat Christ and his church.

Jesus said to Peter in Matthew 16: 18,

“And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it”.

  1. The best of plans will not guarantee success for the evil forces we face

The final false assumption of the wicked or evil men who opposed David is found in the first part of verse 6,

“They plot injustice and say, ‘we have devised a perfect plan!”

Barnes comments on this is helpful,

“They accomplish – This would be better translated by rendering it, “We have perfected it!” That is, we have found it out; it is complete; meaning that they had found a plan to their liking. It is the language of self-congratulation”.

 If this is in the context of the Absalom rebellion then 2 Samuel 16 and 17 is well worth reading as it reveals how Absalom sought lots of advice to make his unjust plan to destroy his father and his faithful followers. He ends up ignoring the advice of the wise old Ahithophel and this becomes the eventual flaw in his so-called perfect plan that leads to his destruction.

So the false assumption is that even the best of plans of evil men will fail and cannot be relied upon. David was caught up in many unjust plans from kings and people outside of Israel and of course from enemies within Israel as well. All of the evil plans of these people failed but David still had to often suffer the consequences of his evil enemies plots and plans.

As followers of Christ we too can be caught up in the consequences of evil unjust plans from enemies of God and his Gospel. Paul knew this and wrote to his churches on many occasions for prayer for success in spreading the message of the Gospel and dealing with those who opposed it and him because he was the one who preached this message. We see this for instance in his prayer request in 2 Thessalonians 3: 1 – 3,

“Pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one”.

Note how Paul attributes this opposition to the spreading of the Gospel message as coming from the “evil one” as the last thing the Devil wants is for people to hear the saving message of the Gospel so he will make many unjust plans to stop the presentation of the Gospel.

  1. The evil forces inspiration (6b)

 The final statement in this second section of the Psalm seems simple and straightforward but a closer look and reflection on it reveals a sad but important point. The phrase reads,

“Surely the mind and heart of man are cunning”

 This phrase picks up a great truth about the sinful state of the human mind and heart. Jeremiah 17: 9 says this about the heart of man,

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure, who can understand it”.

 Paul catalogues the human condition graphically in the book of Romans and says this about the human condition because of sin in Romans 3: 10 – 18,

“There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.” “Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit.” “The poison of vipers is on their lips.  “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness. “Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace they do not know. “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

 So why did Absalom and many others oppose David and act in such an evil and unjust way?

The answer David gives is,

“Surely the mind and heart of man are cunning”

They were in rebellion to God and their minds and hearts were set against him as they looked to themselves and became cunning without God in their sites. They served themselves but in doing so became slaves to sin and then they can be used by the evil one do defy God and attack his faithful followers.

This is also hinted at in verse 4 where they attacked David and those who followed him and his way of relating to God “without fear”. They did not fear God so they did not fear those who seek to follow him. The bible says that, Proverbs 9: 10,

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One understanding”.

David presented idea in some detail in Psalm 14 and Psalm 53 that these men are fools and you can see a more detail exposition of this idea in my Psalm talks on these Psalms.

So David completes his description of the evil men who opposed him and in the face of such numerous and powerful evil opposition David looks weak and defenceless. However David will give us the response of God to these evil men in the next section of the Psalm.

  1. THE RESPONSE OF GOD TO THESE EVIL FORCES (7 – 8)

God’s response to the evil forces that attack his faithful followers is both swift and decisive as verse 7 and 8 clearly present. We will look at these 2 verses with the ideas of:

  1. The swiftness of God’s response (vs. 7)
  2. The decisiveness of God’s response (vs. 8)
  3. The swiftness of God’s response (vs.7)

Verse 7 strikes you with the swiftness of God’s response,

“But God will shoot them with arrows; suddenly they will be stuck down”.

Leopold quotes a commentator named Leslie who coins the phrase,

“The boomerang of malicious speech”.

As an Australian I have come across in years past boomerangs and boomerang throwing and the swift or sudden return of one of those amazing aboriginal weapons which does really surprise you. It takes a bit of skill to develop the technique of throwing them so that without moving a good thrower can have those flying sticks come back so well they can catch them.

It is interesting to note that this swift response of God, which is not swift in timing but in its execution involves using the weapons his enemy uses. We know that in the case of Absalom he was defeated in battle and many of his army would have died from arrow wounds. Of course in 2 Samuel 18 Absalom dies hanging from a tree by his long hair and Joab, David’s general of his armies thrust a spear in Absalom heart to kill him.

Spurgeon sums up the teaching of this verse and writes,

“The Lord turns the tables on his adversaries, and defeats them at their own weapons. Suddenly shall they be wounded.”

They were looking to surprise the saint, but lo! They are taken at unawares themselves; they desired to inflict deadly wounds, and are smitten themselves with wounds which none can heal. While they were bending their bows, the great Lord had prepared his bow already, and he let slip the shaft when least they looked for such an unsparing messenger of justice”.

The sudden swiftness of the final judgment is mentioned number times in the New Testament in various ways. My favorite is 2 Peter 3: 10,

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare”.

Satan will be cast forever into hell as we read in verses like Revelation 20: 10,

“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever”.

This swift and sudden judgment will include all the evil forces that have opposed God as we see from verses 14 and 15 of that same chapter of Revelation,

“Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire”.

  1. The decisiveness of God’s response (vs. 8)

The next verse adds to the swiftness and suddenness of God’s judgment its decisiveness as we read in verse 8,

“He will turn their own tongues against them and bring them to ruin; all who see them will shake their heads in scorn”.

Note that even though the judgment spoken of here was often brought about by the hands of human beings the judgment is God’s doing and even David who often prays for God’s judgment to come on his enemies does not seek to perform or carry out this judgment unless God specifically tells him to.

David had ample opportunities to kill King Saul when he was on the run from him but always refrained from doing so for he respected two facts which were that Saul was king originally appointed by God and that judgment belonged to God alone.

The first part of the verse continues the previous verses idea of God using the evil forces weapons on them to bring them to ruin and judgment. So often throughout history ruthless wicked tyrants and their followers suffered the same fate they sought to inflict on others.

The second part of the verse picks up more specifically the decisiveness of God’s judgment through the eyes of others who witness it, Barnes makes it clear what David is trying to convey here with these comments,

“They shall see that God is just, and that He will punish the wicked; and they will desire to escape from a ruin so dreadful as that which comes upon the ungodly. The idea is, that when God punishes sinners, the effect on others is, and should be, to lead them to wish not to be associated with such people, but to escape from a doom so fearful”.

Many in the past did react this way to the fall in this life of those who sought to oppose God and his faithful followers. We have seen this in recent times in places like Russia where for over 70 years the atheistic communist Governments sought to destroy the church of God and once communism fell so decisively there was an even stronger and vital church that emerged from that terrible dark time.

After Peter spoke of the swift and decisive judgment of God to come in 2 Peter 3: 10, which I referred to earlier, he goes on to tell his readers how the certainty of Judgment should impact on their lives in verses 11 – 13,

“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed it’s coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.  But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells”.

So the message of God’s judgment is both a warning and for those who put there trust in God through Christ a message of hope to come.

So David concludes God’s response to the evil forces he faced and now seeks to complete thus Psalm 64 with a word about both the people who oppose God response to God’s response and believers response to that as well.

  1. THE RESPONSE OF THE WORLD AND BELIEVERS TO GOD’S

RESPONSE TO THESE EVIL FORCES (9 – 10)

David’s words on God’s judgment like many in the bible have a dual application. It can be applied to judgments of God during the time of human history before the final judgment and of course it has application for that final judgment as well.

In the case of this Psalm David’s original words applied, I think to the situation of the rebellion of Absalom or he is thinking back to it or other times David faced evil enemies in his life. However David’s words have the wider application to the final judgment to come, as does most of the description of judgment in the Old Testament.

With this basis for exposition in mind I would now like to open these final two verses of the Psalm.

I have broken these verses into two sections:

  1. The world’s response to God’s response to evil forces (vs.9)
  2. Believers response to God’s response to evil forces (vs. 10)
  3. The world’s response to God’s response to evil forces (vs.9)

Thinking of the response of God to Absalom rebellion and how God dealt with Absalom in judgment in his demise in battle we can easily realise that even those who supported him would have been impressed and fearful of the God behind them.

David was in what seemed a hopeless situation yet he was able to defeat Absalom and his far greater army and only the hand of God intervening for him made the difference. With this in mind we can now read verse 9,

“All mankind will fear; they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what he has done”.

So the general people of David’s time and anyone who read of the story of Absalom demise would have had two responses according to David in verse 9 of this Psalm.

  1. Fear God
  2. Proclaim God’s works
  1. Fear God

The demise of Absalom would have put in the minds of even the followers who survived the rout of his army great alarm or fear. There over confidence in their own ability to oppose God and his anointed King David spoken of in verse 4, 5 and 6.

James speaks of this kind of fear or reverence that even the Devil has in James 2:19

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder”.

James is speaking about the nature of true faith or what we could call saving faith and is saying that even the Devil knows there is a God and that he is powerful. However the Devils acknowledgement of God does not stop him opposing him. So those who continue to oppose God and his true followers can sometimes fear God but still not turn to him in repentance and faith.

Another good example of this is in Joshua chapter 2 when the Canaanite women who helped the spies said this about how her people reacted to the news of God helping the Israelites out of Egypt and in the wilderness. She says in verse 11,

“When we heard of it, our hearts melted in fear and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below”.

 Note how all her fellow Canaanites reacted but it seems only Rahab the lowly prostitute turned that fear of the God of the Israelite’s into saving faith.

Even when Jesus performed great and wonderful miracles, which did impress many people of his day, the reaction of the religious leaders of his day was to seek to kill him. So we should not be surprised when people today see or hear of God at work in our world and find that after being initially impressed they turn their back on putting their faith and trust in him.

  1. Proclaim God’s works

The next part of verse 9 simply says,

“They will proclaim the works of God and ponder what he has done”.

Again great acts of God would have caused much discussion among the people of David time even those who opposed him. Those who survived the Absalom rebellion and who supported him would have discussed what happened to Absalom and the failed revolt he led. This talking over the great acts of God in Judgment would have been a form of proclamation of the works of God.

Returning to the story of Rahab and the spies in Joshua chapter 2 the verse before the one I quoted, verse 10 says this,

“We have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to Sihon and Og, the two kings of the Amorites east of the Jordan, whom you completely destroyed”.

Rahab’s words seems be representative of her fellow Canaanite chatter about the news of what Israel’s God had done for them and would be easily seen as an an example of:

“They will proclaim the works of God and ponder what he has done”.

All of God’s great intervention of Judgment and Salvation has been recorded for us in the bible and any time someone reads that or has it read to them then the works of God are proclaimed and what he has done is pondered.

However as I said at the start of this section this verse has application for the judgment to come. The first passage of scripture I officially preached on in a church many years ago was Philippians 2: 5 – 11. A passage I called the great ladder or stairway of God.

In this passage Jesus descends from heaven like climbing down a great ladder or walking down a great stairway all the way to becoming a man and dying on a cross to pay for our sins.

However once he had paid for our sin he rose from the dead and went back to heaven like he climbed back up the ladder or walked up the stairway to heaven. But his climb did not climax in heaven. Let me show verses 9 – 11 of that passage,

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ Lord, to the glory of God the Father”.

Note what the return of Christ and the great final judgment that will come does to, “All mankind”,

“Every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ Lord, to the glory of God the Father”.

David’s two great reactions to God’s response to evil forces of fear of God and the proclamation of the works of God will be fulfilled totally when Jesus returns.

  1. Believers response to God’s response to evil forces (vs. 10)

David completes the Psalm with a positive word on the reaction of the people of true faith in God who he calls “the righteous” and the “upright in heart” to what God did to his enemies is both:

  1. Rejoice or Praise
  2. Take refuge
  1. Rejoice or Praise

The verse first says:

“Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord” and finishes with, “let all the upright in heart praise him”.

Towards the end of the last Psalm talk on Psalm 63 I said this:

“I have mentioned in other Psalm talks the first question and answer to the Westminster Catechism, which comes from the wonderful biblical statement of faith called the Westminster Confession is,

What is the chief end of man?


A Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever”.

This is a statement that represents teaching that runs right throughout the bible. Let illustrate with an Old Testament reference and a New Testament reference.

First and Old Testament example, 1 Chronicles 16: 23 – 31,

Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.
 Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among all people’s.

 For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods.

 For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendour and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place. Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him. Worship the Lord in the splendour of his holiness. Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”

And a New Testament example, Ephesians 1: 11 – 13,

“ In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit”.

So back in David’s time David is telling his people who like him put their trust or faith in God and sought to live the way he wanted them to live to rejoice in God or praise God for how he responded to his enemies who at that time were people like Absalom and his followers. David wants to use the overthrow of Absalom and other evil forces an object lesson in how God is great and worthy of praise from his people.

We too must live our lives in an attitude of praise to our God because of what Jesus has done for us. As Paul says for us to do in Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18,

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

  1. Take refuge

We finish this Psalm talk with the second response true believers should make when they see or understand God’s response to the evil forces that oppose him. For at least eight Psalms now the word or at least the concept of God being our refuge has come up and I am starting to call these Psalms “The Refuge Psalms”. It is in this 10th and final verse that this phrase appears in this Psalm,

“And take refuge in him (The Lord)”.

To take refuge in God is to find shelter in God from the powerful evil forces that attack God and those who seek to obey and follow him. We have seen that other expressions of God’s promise of protection have been used in recent Psalms which all build up to a beautiful picture of God’s promise of protection from the forces of evil in this world that want to destroy us. Here are some of the other refuge type terms we have seen:

  • “I sing in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 63: 7
  • “He is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” Psalm 62: 6
  • “Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” Psalm 61: 2
  • “Who will bring me to the fortified city?” Psalm 60: 9
  • “Protect me from those who rise up against me.” Psalm 59: 1
  • “I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings.” Psalm 57: 1
  • “In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?”

Psalm 56: 4

So in these past seven Psalms (excluding Psalm 58) many similar expressions have been used to describe the wonderful protection God offers his people. We have also seen that these same Psalms have presented the concept of God’s deliverance and so they could be called, “The Deliverance Psalms” as well.

Here in Psalm 64 David is telling us that because God will deal with the evil forces we battle with and he will deliver us from these evil forces and we should therefore seek to take refuge in him.

Some might say I am advocating we should live sheltered lives but of course God does not say that because we trust in him we will live a sheltered life. In fact I believe God actually leads us into difficult times to help us develop a stronger faith in him as Peter teaches us in 1 Peter 1: 6 – 9,

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls”.

Paul says something similar in Romans 5: 3 – 5,

“We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us”.

So God will not shelter us from not facing problems difficulties in our life particularly those caused by evil forces.

However as David has been presenting through this Psalm and many of the previous Psalms that when we face problems, difficulties and the evil forces in this life led by Satan himself we can go to him for deliverance and protection of shelter and he will give it to us.

Jesus also did not promise us a sheltered existence but he does promise to be with us in the storms and trials of life helping us and protecting us as evil forces wage a spiritual war against him and us, like Matthew 11: 28 – 30,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 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. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

And John 10: 27 – 29,

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand”.

Finally Paul says this about the spiritual battle we are involved in and how Jesus is with us in it, in 2 Corinthians 8 – 12,

“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

David believed in a God who to him was both a deliver and a refuge or protector from all evil forces who attacked him throughout his life. He saw how God protected him for eight long years when he was on the run from King Saul. He saw how God delivered him from the hands of Saul and eventually Saul was no more a threat to him because under God’s judgment he lost his life and his throne.

David also witnessed the end of his son’s rebellion after God had delivered David from his murderous intentions and protected him while he was on the run in the Northern desert area of Judah. David gave praise to his Lord and master who he came to realize was his deliverer and refuge.

I began by pointing out that Paul pictured followers of Christ as soldiers involved in a great spiritual battle with the forces of evil. Paul offers us help from the same God who helped David. In Ephesians 6: 10 – 19 Paul using the image of a first century Roman Soldier and advises us on how we can both know God’s deliverance and protection in the great battle we must fight against evil forces.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people”.

I also spoke in my introduction about the great old hymn, Onward Christian Soldiers and before I close I have picked out one more verse and chorus to quote:

At the sign of triumph Satan’s host doth flee

On, then, Christian soldiers, on to victory!

Hells foundations quiver at the sound of praise

Brothers, lift your voices, loud your anthems raise.

Chorus:

 

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,

With the cross of Jesus going on before!

I close as usual with a new poem, which takes up the refuge images of the past eight Psalms in the chorus and this Psalm in the verses and then a prayer.

LORD BE MY REFUGE AND DELIVERER

Hear me Lord as I raise my voice to you

Protect me Lord and help me through

The devils schemes and wants me too

Turn from always following you.

 

Hide me Lord from the tempters power

Help me to trust you every hour.

Raise me up to your high tower

As the Devil seeks to turn me now.

 

Chorus:

Lord be my refuge and deliverer

Lord be my fortress in life’s battles I pray

Lord be my rock and set me on high

Lord protect me every step of the way.

 

Evil forces work together to fight

Those who trust in the God of might

God will bring down all who turn on him

God will one day judge all their sin.

 

Jesus will return and be seen in the sky

The tables will turn on those who defy.

The angels will raise believers on high

And those who are left will then cry.

 

Chorus:

 

All mankind will praise God as King

When Christ returns they kneel before him.

The message will go out that God is great

But for many it will prove to be to late.

 

So lift up your voices in endless praise

Those who served him throughout their days.

He is our refuge, Savior and King

Now we must always rejoice and sing.

 

Chorus:

Lord be my refuge and deliverer

Lord be my fortress in life’s battles I pray

Lord be my rock and set me on high

Lord protect me every step of the way.

 

By: Jim Wenman

 PRAYER:

Lord of heaven and earth we thank you for your protection and help throughout our lives. Lord, we pray, help us to always to seek to be strong in you as we face the mighty forces of evil. Help us to always remember that your Son had victory over sin and the Devil on the cross. Help us now to fight as good soldiers of the cross the battle of good over evil ever looking to your Son as our Savior and our Lord. In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.