To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.
1 Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer: preserve my life from fear of the enemy.
2 Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked: from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity:
3 Who whet their tongue like a sword, and bend their bows to shoot their arrows, even bitter words:
4 That they may shoot in secret at the perfect: suddenly do they shoot at him, and fear not.
5 They encourage themselves in an evil matter: they commune of laying snares privily: they say, Who shall see them?
6 They search out iniquities: they accomplish a diligent search: both the inward thought of every one of them, and the heart, is deep.
7 But God shall shoot at them with an arrow: suddenly shall they be wounded.
8 So they shall make their own tongue to fall upon themselves: all that see them shall flee away.
9 And all men shall fear, and shall declare the work of God: for they shall wisely consider of His doing.
10 The righteous shall be glad in the LORD, and shall trust in Him: and all the upright in heart shall glory.
A wicked man’s life and death will encourage others to fear God.
We have caught a glimpse of the size and power of the enemy and our hearts are tempted to fear. But as we recite the psalm, we gather courage in the truth of God’s Word, and His absolute sovereignty. Throughout the psalm we are pressed to replace the fear of man with the fear of God and steadfast faith.
Verses 1–2. The Psalmist begins this psalm as just about every other psalm begins—with a cry to God for His salvation. This is a cry of faith that belongs on the lips of every true believer every day of his life. If you read through the books of Samuel and Kings, you will know that David’s life was under constant threat. As far as we are concerned, we may not be facing an imminent threat against our physical lives but the devil is always prowling about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. But the enemies described in this psalm must also include those in the world who do not love God and His people. These are those who will not do a thing to help us along on the way to God and His heaven: they would rather do whatever they can to distract us from the way. They are after our destruction.
Evidently, David is tempted to fear these enemies. In the battle we are often overwhelmed with the threats and challenges of the enemy, whether it be our own flesh or the power of the world. Often, men are afraid to witness their faith in the workplace during lunch hour because they are afraid they might create waves or lose their jobs. Some pastors are afraid to preach against powerful governors who sin against God in their life by their policies and in their choices, because they see that there is some risk of imprisonment or even death. Throughout history, there have always been politically popular sins, like homosexuality and adultery. John the Baptist was martyred for preaching against these sins. Rather than giving way to fear and flinching in the face of this power, David writes this encouraging psalm.
Verses 3–6. Now David describes the enemy in more detail. In short, the wicked man loves his sin. He is deceitful, sneaky, and ever innovative in the life of sin that he lives. Whether that wicked man is a university professor or a serial killer, the end result of his work is effectively the same—evil destruction. He may not readily admit it, but the product of his life is measured by such things as destroyed marriages, weakened families and churches, or even the murder of millions of innocent lives.
In what appears to be a satirical remark, David says that these wicked men encourage themselves in their evil-doing. While we are encouraging ourselves to be faithful, obedient, and loving, they are busy encouraging themselves to steal, kill, and rebel against God and His holy law. Isn’t this what we find in many modern movies, television programs, and top-forty radio formats—the same old tiresome stream of encouragements to dishonor parents, and practice homosexuality, fornication, and other grievous sins against God? They act as if they can sin and pretend that God is not a factor in their thoughts and ways.
Verses 7–10. The remaining verses speak of the certain judgment of God upon these wicked men who think they can sin with impunity. As sure as there is a God in the heavens who created heaven and earth, He will judge them, and that judgment will come swiftly and without warning. We see here that God’s purposes are accomplished even in the life and death of the wicked. Others will see their dreadful plight and take warning. Eventually, history will condemn the most wicked men who have ever lived—men like King Ahab, King Herod, Nero, Hitler, and Stalin. To this day, few people want to identify themselves with these monsters. What parent would name his child “Adolf,” “Ahab,” or “Herod”? Of course, not everyone turns to God in fearful reverence when they see His judgment working itself out in history, but many will, and they will declare the work of God as they see His hand working through history.
The righteous will rejoice in Yahweh and His absolute power and sovereignty, and they will trust in His mercy. The question of “Whom do you trust?” is very much connected to the question of “Whom do you fear?” The psalm began with David struggling with the fear of man, but it ends with a confession of trust in God. When we see wicked men strengthening themselves in their wickedness, it is easy for our faith to falter. Is God really sovereign over these men? Will God really come to save me in the day of trouble? Faith answers those questions with a resounding, “Yes!”
Everyone needs encouragement. The wicked need encouragement to bolster their confidence while they work their wicked agenda. And the righteous need encouragement to bolster their faith while they are under attack and while they stand for righteousness. Let us never flinch in the day of battle or give way to the fear of men. That would be to deny the existence and sovereignty of God. Rather, let us fasten our eyes on our God and trust in Him in the day of trouble. Then we will be able to rejoice and glorify God.
1. Encouragement is an essential element that must be ever present in the public worship service. As the blood-streaked, wearied warriors straggle into the worship service of God, they need to receive rousing encouragement in the promises of God concerning the demise of the wicked and the certain victory of Christ’s kingdom.
2. In worship, we can legitimately point out the nature of wicked men, their thought patterns, and the horrible plight that awaits them if they remain in the camp of the wicked. We do this in order that we might warn others to mark the difference between the righteous and the wicked, and that we might encourage others to fear God.
1. Who is David tempted to fear in this psalm?
2. Who should David fear?
3. Name several Faith psalms.
4. How does David describe wicked men in this psalm?
5. What is the plight of the wicked?
1. Are we encouraged in our family worship together? Is our faith strengthened? Are we constantly reminded of the promises of God and the certain defeat of our enemies?
2. As we view the demise of the wicked, does this strengthen us in the fear of God? What is it like to live in the fear of God?