14. Deliverance

Reaching into the Psalms 1 to 4:  14. Deliverance (End of Psalm 3)

Psa 3:7,8    Arise, Lord! Deliver me, my God! Strike all my enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked. From the Lord comes deliverance. May your blessing be on your people.

Deliver me!  Here is a pair of verses I think most of us just skim over without a great deal of thought. Yes, David wants God to deliver him. OK. Move on. Hold on! David is clear in his request, for now we have returned to the request part of this prayer, and it is to be delivered out of this present situation. Now think about this; how many of us have life circumstances that we wish we could wave a magic wand over and change? Perhaps it is state of health, perhaps it is boring work, perhaps it is annoying neighbours, perhaps it is rebellious teenagers, perhaps it is the tantrums of the terrible twos, perhaps it is the anguish of having to cope with senile parents. We have a couple of friends both of whom have elderly parents who put such demands upon them that they rarely have a moment’s peace. Perhaps you are one of those elderly parents and you fear because of the awareness of declining faculties. There can be so many things, living in this fallen world, that are stressful.

What sort of fighting? So yes, the objective of this part of the prayer is quite clear but look at the language. Strike my enemies on the jaw???  Break the teeth of the wicked??? Hold on, I thought this was supposed to me a man after God’s own heart? We need to realise two things.  First there is David, his times and his life. He is first and foremost a warrior. Whether it was killing lions and bears, slaying giants or leading armies against thousands, he is a warrior and this is the language of a warrior. Second, you and I are not called to be warriors in the same way. The battles we fight are against ungodliness and unrighteousness and we operate under an army commander, seated at his Father’s right hand in heaven, who is working out his strategies on earth, partly by means of his own Holy Spirit who indwells you and me, and the thing about it is that we are called to ‘fight’ with the character of our commander. Hence we find, “I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.” (Mt 5:44,45)

Change this! Put aside the language, what do we see here? That same insistence that you and I feel when confronted by attacks from the enemy – Lord please step in, stop this happening!  Yes, in his case it is the language of a warrior of those days but it is exactly the same in its sense as the cries that come out of us. Perhaps one of the best illustrations of the frustration that sometimes builds up in us came from Habakkuk: “How long, O Lord, must I call for help? But you do not listen! “Violence is everywhere!” I cry, but you do not come to save.” (Hab 1:2) His cry was over the unrighteousness he saw all around him. The Lord’s answer, put most briefly, was, “I’m on it – but perhaps not in the way you might expect!”

Confident Assurance: But then in verse 8, having just asked for help, comes a declaration that that help WILL come because God does this sort of thing; that David has learned. “From the Lord comes deliverance.” (v.8a) Throughout his life, this warrior has realised that when he has had victory, it was the Lord enabling him, for example, “The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” (1 Sam 17:37) David had been the one who had used a sling, but it was the Lord who had enabled him to overcome. That is spiritual maturity, recognising our abilities come from the Lord. And once we have that? Then we can rest in the assurance that in the present trying circumstances, the Lord WILL come and deliver.

Peace and the bigger picture: See the flow of this whole prayer. First there had been the acknowledgment of the problem of his present circumstances (v.1,2). Then came what he knew of the Lord, what he had learned over the years – that God was his shield and so on (v.3) – and then came the recognition that when he cried to the Lord, the Lord always heard him (v.4), but the Lord’s ‘hearing’ wasn’t something passive, it meant that David could rest at peace in that security (v.5), knowing he did not need to fear the opposition (v.6). So now he could pray confidently for the Lord to come and deliver him (v.7) because he knew that that Lord was a deliverer (v.8a) and having come to that point it is as if peace reigns in David’s heart and he is able to simply speak to the big picture, “May your blessing be on your people.” (v.8b) Even in that he declaring God’s will for he knows that that is God intention, that is what God wants to do – bless His people.

Blessings from God: Back in the Law we find, “All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God,” (Deut 28:2) and that is then followed by a whole series of ways that God wanted to decree good over His people. Obedience was the thing the Lord called for again and again so that His people would learn to walk in the ways He had designed for His world, and when they did that they would find that He decreed good for them – His blessings. This was what David knew the Lord wanted now in these present circumstances – that His disciplinary will would be worked out in David’s life and if David responded righteously, then the Lord’s blessing would be forthcoming. Yes, it would be for him, but it would also be “on your people,” on the nation as well. How easy it is to miss the implications of these few simple words. David may be a king on the run but he is still God’s king over His people and he still wants God’s blessing for these people, despite the difficulties he is suffering under God’s discipline. A test of righteousness and spiritual maturity is how you respond under the discipline of the Lord. May we pass such tests.

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