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Psalm 140

Jorine Johnson

1 Deliver me, O Lord, from evil men;

preserve me from violent men,

2 who plan evil things in their heart

and stir up wars continually.

3 They make their tongue sharp as a serpent's,

and under their lips is the venom of asps. Selah

4 Guard me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked;

preserve me from violent men,

who have planned to trip up my feet.

5 The arrogant have hidden a trap for me,

and with cords they have spread a net;

beside the way they have set snares for me. Selah

6 I say to the Lord, You are my God;

give ear to the voice of my pleas for mercy, O Lord!

7 O Lord, my Lord, the strength of my salvation,

you have covered my head in the day of battle.

8 Grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked;

do not further their evil plot, or they will be exalted! Selah

9 As for the head of those who surround me,

let the mischief of their lips overwhelm them!

10 Let burning coals fall upon them!

Let them be cast into fire,

into miry pits, no more to rise!

11 Let not the slanderer be established in the land;

let evil hunt down the violent man speedily!

12 I know that the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted,

and will execute justice for the needy.

13 Surely the righteous shall give thanks to your name;

the upright shall dwell in your presence.

This is a psalm about David’s need for the Lord’s rescue in his life especially in the presence of wicked people. There seemed to be a lot of really wicked people that were after David such as King Saul, and then later his own son Absalom, and others like Sheba who would lead a rebellion against David. He was cursed by Shimei and pelted with rocks. David when he had to run away from Saul lived in the presence of the king of Gath which is the ruler of the Philistines, one of the enemies of Israel. He usually finds himself in the company of wicked men and finds his life wanted by wicked people.

David’s plea is that the Lord would rescue him from danger, from the presence of violent and wicked people, and that they would not take David’s life. There are many traps that David faced, and so his prayer that the Lord would rescue and bring to deliverance of all those situations of fear and trouble. 

Verse 7 shifts from the prayer in the past tense, and exalts God in the past tense as one who has covered David’s head in battle. As many were seeking to take David’s life and cut off his head like he had done against Goliath, he had assurance that God’s protection would be sufficient. As David dwelt in Gath, it’s possible that some of the people were embittered to David as Goliath was from Gath. They may have wanted to take David’s life. 

Verses 12-13 are beautiful verses. God will maintain the cause of the afflicted and the oppressed even when no one does. David may feel alone and helpless with the disappointment that there would be no one to uphold his cause. The imagery is like a lawyer tirelessly working for their defendant, believing in their defendant and maintaining their innocence. And David reminds himself that their is an advocate for believers who trust in the Lord. The Lord God Almighty! 

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