Lectio Continua: a continuous reading of every verse
Lectio Semi-continua: shorter reading selections from the passages
“I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies.” ~Psalm 57:9-10
David prays for mercy because enemies “hotly pursue” him. He is slandered and attacked. Those who hate him twist his words, plot his death, and set traps at every turn. Yet David is certain of the Lord (v. 11). He recognizes that God is sovereign (the sole ruler) over all of creation, even over the evil deeds of men. John Calvin expanded on this precept in his seminal work, Institutes of the Christian Religion, “But let the saints recall that the devil and the whole cohort of the wicked are completely restrained by God’s hand as by a bridle, so that they are unable either to hatch [plan] any plot against us or, having hatched [planned] it, to make preparations or, if they have fully planned it, to stir a finger toward carrying it out, except so far as he has permitted, indeed commanded.” Whatever you face, take comfort in a God who controls all things. What can man do to us?
This psalm continues the theme of the previous one. It is a prayer for deliverance and for mercy. The psalmist cries out to the Most High to save him and to rebuke those who hotly pursue him (vv. 2-3). Even in the midst of the hunt, he places his trust in God. “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music” (v. 7). Surrounded by enemies, he says, “I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies” (vv. 9-10). It is because of who God is that David is able to praise Him in a moment when danger presses so close. God is loving and faithful, and David trusts that He will act in a way that is true to His character. May God’s love and His faithfulness bring you encouragement today!
We have remarked more than once that vengeance belongs to the Lord, but if this is the case, then why does David (seemingly) pray for retribution? “Break the teeth in their mouths, O God; tear out, O Lord, the fangs of the lions”? (v. 6). First, understand that David is not speaking literally but poetically. Poets are intentionally provocative; they use imagery to prompt us to experience their emotions. David paints a picture of a truly fearsome enemy, one that can do considerable damage. There is fear underlying his spirited cry for rescue because he feels, and so wants to evoke in his readers, a terror akin to that of a man threatened by a hungry lion. Second (and here is the main point), David is not acting out to getting even. He is praying. He is asking God for justice, and that is precisely what any believer should do. It is not for us to take matters into our own hands but rather to put the wrongs committed against us into God’s hands. Then “the righteous will be glad when they are avenged” by the Lord (v. 10)! May God grant you justice!